Column: Tax Relief for Seniors
Rep. Brad Jones is the state representative for Lynnfield and the House Minority Leader.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you of a tax credit program designed for Massachusetts seniors age 65 and older called the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit.
Designed by the Legislature with the hope of alleviating some of the burdens that the property tax can create, the Circuit Breaker program has the potential to help seniors afford to stay in their homes. The Senior Circuit Breaker is a refundable tax credit which means that if you do not have a state income tax liability, you can still receive a payment from the state for up to $1,000.
This program allows residents who are 65 or older claim a credit of up to $1,000 on their income tax form for the property taxes they paid on their home in 2012. Seniors can apply for the tax credit if they meet certain income guidelines and if the assessed value of their home is $705,000 or less. Single filers cannot have an income of more than $53,000 a year and if filed jointly, their combined income cannot not exceed $80,000.
Eligible taxpayers who own their property may also claim a credit equal to the amount of their property tax payments. The credit is equal to the amount by which the taxpayer's property tax payment in the current tax year, including half of their water and sewer charges but excluding any abatement or exemption, exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer's total income, up to the $1,000 figure. The Department of Revenue offers this example: Let's say a married couple has an annual income of $50,000 and a property tax and water and sewer bill of $6,000. Ten percent of their income is $5,000 and their combined tax bill is $6,000, which is $1,000 more than ten percent of their income, so they qualify for the maximum credit of $1,000.
Taxpayers who live in communities that do not include water and sewer debt service in their property tax assessments may claim 50% of the water and sewer charges actually paid during the tax year.
I urge all residents age 65 and older to find out if they are eligible for the senior circuit breaker tax credit. The credit is refundable, so even if you do not have any state tax liability, you may still qualify. Additionally, the credit is also available to many renters. Not owning your home does not mean you cannot or do not qualify, so I urge individuals who may rent to check and see if they qualify for the refund.
More information about the current eligibility guidelines is available on the state’s Department of revenue website at www.dor.state.ma.us. Questions can also be directed to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Customer Service Bureau at 617-887-MDOR or 800-392-6089.
If you have any ideas you’d like to share about making the Commonwealth more affordable for seniors, or you need any materials or forms relative to the Senior Circuit Breaker, please feel free to call me at the State House at 617-722-2100 or you can contact me via email at Bradley.Jones@MAHouse.gov.