Tax Relief Coming

Tuesday March 05, 2024

Sen. Bruce Tarr

REGIONAL – Massachusetts, jokingly nicknamed Taxachusetts for its long history of high taxes, took steps this year to lower the provide $1 billion in tax relief for businesses, families, rents and two programs to help seniors, 60 and 65 years old and older.
During the last session, state leaders, including state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, cut taxes in the Act to Improve the Commonwealth’s Competitiveness, Affordability and Equity. Gov. Maura Healy signed it into law last October.
To help seniors take advantage of the new tax programs, Tarr has again invited Brian Lynch with the Department of Revenue (DOR) to hold a series of seminars at local Councils on Aging this week in Boxford, Georgetown, Gloucester, Ipswich, North Reading and West Newbury.
“Our Seniors continue to face the high costs of living in Massachusetts, made more difficult by inflation,” Tarr said. “We need to not only act to provide them with tools for relief, but also to assist them with taking advantage of those tools.”
Mike Festa, state director of the American Association of Retired Persons Massachusetts, praised the bipartisan approval of the measure on Beacon Hill. “These measures allow people to age with dignity in their own home and community where we know they want to be.”
The Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Relief program, a refundable credit available on the state personal income tax return, was doubled for senior citizens, 65 years old or older. The tax credit is based on actual real estate taxes either paid directly or through rent for the principal residence.
For tax year 2023, eligible seniors can claim a maximum credit amount of $2,590. If the credit owed to a senior taxpayer exceeds the total tax owed for the year, the taxpayer will be refunded the additional amount of the credit without interest.
“By increasing the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Relief tax credit, we aim to alleviate the financial burden associated with property taxes and ensure that our seniors, many of whom are on a fixed income, can stay in their homes, as they continue to navigate the rising cost of living in Massachusetts,” Tarr said.
Mary Ann Nay, Tarr’s senior district director, who has been coordinating the seminars, said Lynch has worked with the senator for several year to educate seniors about this tax credit. “His discussion will include eligibility and qualifying criteria, how to calculate one’s circuit breaker tax credit amount and how to file and receive the refundable credit through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue,” she wrote in announcing the seminars.
Tarr, the minority leader in the Senate, also amended the bill to increase the allowable Senior Citizen Tax Work-Off Program tax credit by $500, raising it from $1,500 to $2,000.
Tax Work-Off Program, available to residents aged 60 or older, provides eligible participants with a chance to work down their property tax bill, which contributes to their community while saving money for themselves and their families.
“The Senior Citizen Tax Work-Off Program not only eases the financial burden for our seniors, but also encourages them to stay active and involved in our community. It’s a win-win situation that fosters a sense of belonging and purpose for our elderly residents,” Tarr wrote in the announcement.
Once municipalities approve the program requirements, qualified homeowners can volunteer for community service and reduce their tax burden by working 62.5 hours during the year in a city department or agency.
The work this year reduces the property tax bill next year.
On March 6, the seminars will be held in Boxford at 9:30 a.m., West Newbury at noon and Georgetown at 1:30 p.m. On March 7, the seminars will be held in Gloucester at 9:30 a.m., Ipswich at 11:30 a.m. and North Reading at 1 p.m.

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