BOSTON – Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced he will sign an ordinance passed by the Boston City Council, sponsored by Councilors Lydia Edwards and Ed Flynn, which will provide assistance to older homeowners in Boston. With the passage of this ordinance, the City of Boston will opt into Massachusetts General Law Ch. 60 §62A, which gives municipalities the ability to offer payment agreements to older homeowners who are behind on their tax payments.
“In Boston, we are committed to taking care of everyone who wants to live in our City, including older residents who help make Boston the world-class city it is today. With this ordinance, we’re working to further create a supportive city where all residents, regardless of age or ability, can thrive,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank Councilors Edwards, Flynn and the rest of the Boston City Council for their collaboration.”
The ordinance will allow property tax payment agreements and interest relief for eligible senior homeowners with low-income in the City struggling to repay their overdue taxes. Payment agreements of up to five years that forgive 50% of the accrued interest will be granted to eligible, low-income seniors in Boston. In order to be eligible, people must meet the requirements for the residential and senior exemptions.
This legislation will also improve the accessibility of tax-related documents by providing residents with details about how to access their property tax information in multiple languages. This effort is being coordinated as part of the City of Boston’s Office of Language and Communication Access citywide implementation plan.
“As a city, it’s critical we take every step possible to keep our elders housed and to support Bostonians in building and retaining wealth over generations,” said Councilor Edwards. “This ordinance is a win-win, helping economically vulnerable taxpayers keep their homes while meeting tax obligations to the city. I appreciate the partnership of the Mayor, city staff and my colleagues on the council in crafting this ordinance and I look forward to its signing.”
“It is great to work with the Walsh Administration to provide more tools for our elderly residents and increase accessibility for non-English speaking Bostonians.” said co-sponsor Ed Flynn, District 2 City Councilor, “Tax bills can be intimidating and this ordinance will make things easier for the taxpayers of Boston. I look forward to having this ordinance signed into law.”
This ordinance continues to build on Boston’s age-friendly work. Including its work to support senior homeowners. In 2016, Mayor Walsh announced an 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.
Across Boston, the Age-Friendly Boston initiative was launched in 2014 when Mayor Walsh joined the network of the World Health Organization age-friendly cities through AARP, the United States affiliate. In May of 2017, the City of Boston’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly released the Age-Friendly Action Plan, a comprehensive plan with 75 action items to create an environment where older adults continue to lead healthy and productive lives in Boston.