BOSTON – Friday, July 15, 2016 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the extension of the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement program. The tax work-off abatement law allows a city or town to establish a program giving property owners 60 years or older the opportunity to volunteer services to their city or town in exchange for a reduction in property tax.
A five year extension of the program was recently approved by the City Council and signed by the Mayor and allows qualifying seniors to receive a credit of up to $1,000 toward their real estate tax liability. It also gives residents an opportunity to make meaningful contributions at the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF) community centers, public libraries, public schools and City Hall. In addition, significant changes were made to expand this vital program by increasing the income limits to $40,000 for an individual and $55,000 for a couple, doubling the number of seniors who can participate in the program, and expanding the amount of time participants have to complete their hours.
Applications are available at the city’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly and are due by August 1, 2016. Applications were mailed for the FY17 Senior Citizen Property Tax Abatement Work-Off Program to over 2,200 eligible seniors including participants from last year as well as potential new candidates. Interested older adults are encouraged to call the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly at 617-635-4366 for additional information and to request an application.
“Extending and expanding our senior citizen tax abatement program is a continuation of the City’s commitment to providing resources and financial assistance to our seniors,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am dedicated to ensuring all seniors can live comfortably in their homes. As a city, we are committed to giving back and improving the quality of life for our seniors.”
The Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program is managed through a partnership between the city’s Assessing Department and the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly. The City of Boston administers the tax abatement, keeping track of hours worked and crediting the resident for each hour worked. According to State Law, the hourly wage cannot exceed minimum wage.
The Property Tax Work Off Program is one of many programs the city offers to help older homeowners. Other programs eligible seniors can access include:
Tax exemptions including a residential exemption, elderly and veterans’ exemption
The Senior Home Repair Program, through the Boston Home Center, allows seniors to access a wide range of home repair services including low interest loans
Seniors Save helps eligible residents fund a replacement for an old or inefficient heating system
30% discount on water portion of Boston Water and Sewer bill
Other recent initiatives for seniors include the Comcast Cable legacy senior discount, which was finalized in 2015. The agreement Mayor Walsh brokered with Comcast expanded senior discount opportunities for cable TV and internet while preserving the legacy senior discount package for existing customers.
In addition to senior cable TV discounts,Comcast offered eligible Boston seniors an opportunity to purchase significantly discounted high-speed internet access. The benefits that Comcast offers Boston seniors include:
A ten percent discount on both Basic and Digital Starter Cable TV;
Continued support for Senior Basic Lifeline cable service at $5.00/month for existing customers, and;
Internet Essentials high-speed service for $9.95/month, and access to discounted equipment and training programs
“Boston has a diverse and growing older adult population,” said Emily Shea, Commissioner of Affairs of the Elderly. “Under Mayor Walsh’s leadership we have made a commitment to be an Age-Friendly City. The expansion of the Property Tax Work Off Program Boston is an important Age-Friendly accomplishment, and the City is eager to continue its work on behalf of our senior residents.”
In June, the City’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly released data from its Age-Friendly Boston Initiative. The Age-Friendly Boston project challenges the city’s public agencies, community groups, businesses, cultural, educational and religious institutions to consider how changes to policy and practice can enhance the quality of life for Boston’s aging residents. The report focuses on Boston residents’ feedback on growing older in Boston and indicates that a majority of residents want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. This tax abatement extension is being implemented by the City of Boston to ensure the City’s seniors can age comfortably in their homes and is an example of the city responding to the needs of older residents.