During the 2011-2012 session, Jamie filed the following pieces of legislation on property taxes, senior circuit breakers, and assessment:
Senior Property Tax Relief
An Act relative to senior property tax relief – the circuit breaker
This bill would amend the state income tax credit for certain Massachusetts residents aged 65 or older who pay rent or real estate taxes. To receive the tax credit the individual senior must meet income limits and other eligibility requirements. The bill would reduce the age of qualified seniors from 65 to 60, and would change the tax credit formula to 50% of the sum of the annual real estate tax plus water and sewer charges paid in the tax year. The bill also allows for income limits to be adjusted on an annual basis to reflect the consumer price index.
An Act to freeze the property taxes for certain seniors
This bill allows cities and towns to opt in to a program that freezes the property tax at the amount taxes in the year prior to reaching a resident’s 65th birthday, and subsequently – provided that the property is owner occupied and the gross receipts from all sources of income is less than $40,000 in the taxable year.
An Act authorizing municipalities to authorize real estate tax rebates to qualified property owners
This bill would allow cities and towns to supplement the tax credit seniors qualify for under the Circuit Breaker Law by authorizing the municipality to offer additional tax rebates of $750.00 to seniors who qualify for Circuit Breaker relief.
An Act providing for a local option tax exemption
This bill creates a local option for cities and towns to offer property tax relief to seniors who have reached a specified age (65 or 70 at the town’s discretion), who owns and occupies the real estate for at least 6 months per year, who has resided in the town for at least 10 consecutive years, whose home’s maximum assessed value is less than the median value of residential real estate in the community, and whose annual income is less than 51,000 for a single applicant and 77,000 for a married applicant filing jointly.
An Act relative to tax exempt property
This bill would grant municipalities the right of first refusal to purchase a tax exempt property which is being sold to a taxable entity.
An Act relative to local property tax exemptions for certain persons
This bill covers several property tax exemptions. First, the bill remedies an inequity in the property tax exemption for paraplegic veterans to make that exemption available to the veteran or the veteran’s spouse so long as the spouse owns and occupies the domicile. New language treats paraplegic veterans and their spouses consistently with the treatment of spouses of other veterans with significant service connected disabilities. The bill also puts this exemption into effect solely on the local level, as all other veteran and personal exemptions. Second, the bill places in the General Laws the so-called optional additional exemption that municipalities may give to disabled veterans, blind person, seniors and other taxpayers who qualify for personal exemptions under specified clauses of G.L. c. 59, § 5. It clarifies that the city or town does not have to annually vote on the exemption amount. After the statute is accepted, the legislative body would determine the exemption amount before the beginning of the fiscal year it would take effect. That amount would apply until such time as the legislative body makes another determination before the beginning of the fiscal year the change is to take effect. Finally, the bill makes conforming amendments in other statutes to reflect other new personal exemptions for seniors, veterans and others that have been enacted in recent years. These amendments ensure taxpayers seeking any currently available personal exemption will be treated the same with respect to exemption eligibility and application due date.
An Act relative to property tax exemptions for certain financial hardships
This would allow assessors to grant a hardship exemption regardless of age. Currently, there is no exemption for disabled individuals unless they are elderly and impoverished. The proposed change would allow a person to qualify if they are in financial difficulty because of age or infirmity, allowing a disabled person who is not elderly to qualify.
An Act relative to authorized abatement applications
This bill requires that anyone other than the property owner who files for a property tax abatement must provide proof to the assessors that they are authorized to file on the taxpayer’s behalf.
An Act relative to the taxation of condominiums
This bill would enable assessors to assess the development rights of condominiums in phased condo developments. Currently, because there is no land assessment on condos, when the master deed is filed the value of the land goes away, even if the developer does not complete the phasing of the project. Sections 2-4 clarify that a municipality does not have to pay the condo fees if a condo is in tax title.