Chapter 59 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 5N, amended by section 15 of chapter 62 of the acts of 2014, the following section:-
Section 5O. (a) In any city or town that accepts the provisions of this section, with respect to each qualifying parcel of real property classified as Class one, residential there shall be an exemption from the property tax equal to the total amount of tax that would otherwise be assessed without this exemption less the sum of: (i) 10 per cent of the total annual qualifying income for purposes of circuit breaker income tax credit under subsection (k) of section 6 of chapter 62; and (ii) the circuit breaker income tax credit under said subsection (k) of said section 6 the applicant was eligible to receive in the year prior to the application being filed. The percentage of total annual qualifying income may be raised under subsection (c). In no event shall property taxes be reduced by more than 50 per cent by this exemption. The exemption shall be applied to the domicile of the taxpayer only. For the purposes of this section, “parcel” shall be a unit of real property as defined by the assessors of the city or town under the deed for the property and shall include a condominium unit.
(b) The board of assessors may deny an application for an exemption pursuant to this section if they find the applicant has excessive assets that place them outside of the intended recipients of the senior exemption created by this section. Real property shall qualify for the exemption under subsection (a) if all of the following criteria are met:
(1) the real property is owned and occupied by a person whose prior year’s income would make the person eligible for the circuit breaker income tax credit under subsection (k) of section 6 of chapter 62;
(2) the real property is owned by a single applicant age 65 or older at the close of the previous year or jointly by persons either of whom is age 65 or above at the close of the previous year and if the joint applicant is 60 years of age or older;
(3) the real property is owned and occupied by the applicant or joint applicants as their domicile;
(4) the applicant or at least 1 of the joint applicants has been domiciled in the city or town for at least 10 consecutive years before filing an application for the exemption;
(5) the maximum assessed value of the domicile is no greater than the prior year’s average assessed value of a single family residence for the city or town plus 10 per cent; and
(6) the board of assessors has approved the application.
(c) The exemption under subsection (a) shall be in addition to any other exemption allowable under the General Laws, except that there shall be a dollar cap on all the exemptions granted pursuant to this section equal to .5 per cent of the fiscal year’s total residential property tax levy for the city or town, including the levy for any regional high school if not included in the city’s or town’s tax levy at some subsequent date with the total exemption amount granted by this section allocated proportionally within the tax levy on all residential taxpayers. After the first year of such exemption, the total cap on the exemptions granted pursuant to this section shall be set annually by the board of selectmen, in the case of a town, the city manager, in the case of a city under a Plan E form of government, or the city council, in the case of all other cities, within a range of .5 to 1 per cent of the residential property tax levy for the city of town, including the levy for any regional high school. In the event that benefits to the applicants may be limited because the percentage established annually by the selectmen, city manager or city council would otherwise be exceeded, the benefits shall be allocated by raising the total annual qualifying income percentage as required in section 1 as necessary to not exceed the cap. In the event the cap exceeds the need for the exemption, the total cap on the exemptions granted by this section shall be reduced to meet the need.
(d) A person who seeks to qualify for the exemption under subsection (a) shall, before the deadline established by the board of assessors, file an application, on a form to be adopted by the board of assessors, with the supporting documentation of the applicant’s income and assets as described in the application. The application shall be filed each year for which the applicant seeks the exemption.
(e) No exemption shall be granted under this section until the department of revenue certifies a residential tax rate for the applicable tax year where the total exemption amount is raised by a burden shift within the residential tax levy.
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