SOMERVILLE – It’s official. Homeowners who live in their Somerville property will now receive the highest property tax exemption in the state after Governor Deval Patrick
signed new legislation this week that had previously been approved by the Somerville Board of Aldermen in March 2014. The legislation increases Somerville’s residential exemption from 30 percent to 35 percent, and the new rate is retroactive to July 1, 2014. The City continues to explore increasing exemptions for seniors, veterans, widows and those with disabilities, groups that are already offered exemptions in Somerville at double the state limit.
For the 58 percent of homes in Somerville currently eligible for the residential exemption, here’s what 35 percent means for homeowners:
Average FY14 Value
Tax Change From FY13 at 30%
Tax Change From FY13 at 35%
Savings With Increase
“Increasing the property tax exemption, even by five percent, means modest savings for Somerville’s property owners, who continue to invest in our City, its programs and services. I want to thank the Governor and especially our State Delegation – Senator Jehlen, Representative Provost and Representative Toomey – for making sure that this exemption applies to this fiscal year and fighting hard for a speedy adoption of this important Special Act,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Across Massachusetts, communities have been forced to increasingly rely on the property tax as state aid has been steadily cut since 2000. Residential property tax bills in Somerville are still lower than in most neighboring towns, but our families and seniors could face greater burdens in the future and this increase helps protect those families.”
“When I authored the legislation that increased the exemption from 17 to 30 percent, I sought to protect the families and residents who, without this exemption, might have been forced to sell their home years ago,” said William White, President of the Somerville Board of Aldermen. “The great progress that Somerville has made over the past decade has made our city ripe for real estate speculation. An increase in the residential exemption is one tool that should help us in our efforts to keep Somerville affordable for our residents who wish to stay here.”
“The Mayor and the Board of Aldermen deserve a great credit for passing this home rule petition at the local level and advocating strongly for its passage at the State House” said State Senator Pat Jehlen. “Maintaining a balanced city budget is a difficult enough endeavor as is, even without reducing tax revenue – but local leaders saw the importance of providing the highest level of property tax relief in the state for homeowners who live in Somerville.”
“I pushed hard for the speedy passage of this bill because Somerville home owners deserve the property tax relief they will now enjoy this year,” said State Representative Denise Provost. “Many were skeptical that a bill filed so late in the session could advance to success, but this delegation kept on top of this legislation every step of the way – meanwhile, inspiring a lot of colleagues to do the same for their communities.”
“The residential exemption, which is now the highest in Massachusetts after this increase, is an important part of keeping Somerville an accessible place to live for new and established homeowners alike,” said State Representative Tim Toomey. “The increase to 35% will be especially helpful for long-time homeowners who have felt the pinch of rapidly rising property values in recent years. I applaud the Board of Alderman and the Mayor for the leadership they displayed in approving this exemption increase.”
To qualify for the exemption for FY 2015, you had to own and occupy your Somerville home as your principal residence as of January 1, 2014. FY 2015 applications and documentation requirements are available in the Assessor’s Office and must be filed no later than April 1, 2015.