By Bob Katzen

In December, the Senate approved a bill that would allow cities and towns to establish a means-tested property tax exemption for senior citizens. The bill gives communities the option to give some property tax relief to qualifying seniors 65 or older who have lived in the community for at least ten consecutive years. If a tax exemption request is filed jointly, the second applicant must be 60 or older, and at least one of the applicants must meet the minimum residency requirement of 10 consecutive years.

Qualified homeowners would be eligible for a reduction in their property taxes equal to 10 percent of their income plus the amount of the circuit breaker tax credit for which they are eligible. The bill also stipulates that any reduction provided by the exemption cannot exceed 50 percent of the homeowners’ total property tax liability.

“The hope is that this bill will allow many seniors to remain in their homes and continue to live in the same community where they have raised their families,” said Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading), the sponsor of an early version of the bill. “This approach has proven to be successful in a handful of communities, and this bill will ensure that the same option is available to all 351 cities and towns.

The House approved a different version of the bill in July. The two branches did not resolve their differences and neither version of the bill was given final approval and sent to the governor.

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