Governor Charlie Baker has signed legislation to extend the town of Reading’s senior property tax exemption program for another three years.
Filed on behalf of the town by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and Senator Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester), House Bill 4243 was signed into law on March 25 as Chapter 50 of the Acts of 2020.
“Reading’s program has been highly effective in providing real tax relief to hundreds of local homeowners, so this is tremendous news” said Representative Jones. “Governor Baker understands how important it is to keep housing affordable for seniors, and I appreciate him taking quick action to ensure that Reading can continue to offer this important program.”
“I am happy to join my colleagues Senator Lewis and Minority Leader Jones to announce some good news with the signing of the Reading Senior Property Tax Exemption today,” said Representative Haggerty. “These are difficult times, especially for our increasingly vulnerable senior population who require critical assistance. The reauthorization of this bipartisan measure plays a large part in that support by protecting our seniors and keeping them in their homes.”
“Especially in times of economic uncertainty, it’s so important for our communities to help individuals on a fixed income make ends meet and stay in their homes,” said Senator Lewis. “I’m proud to join with Leader Jones and Representative Haggerty to reauthorize this important local policy and help Reading seniors.”
Reading launched its senior property tax exemption program in July of 2017, with a three-year sunset provision. Since the program started, a total of 540 applications have been approved, with an average of 180 applicants receiving a total tax break of $4,900, or just over $1,600 annually.
Under the program, qualifying Reading homeowners who are 65 and older can receive a tax exemption equal to 150% of the state’s Senior Circuit Breaker tax credit. Individuals and couples must apply annually to receive the tax exemption, and all applications are subject to approval by the Reading Board of Assessors.
To qualify for the exemption,
- The property on which the exemption is claimed must be owned and occupied by a person whose prior year’s income makes them eligible for the Senior Circuit Breaker income tax credit;
- Applicants must be 65 or older at the close of the previous year, but if filing jointly, at least one applicant must be 65 or older and the other applicant must be at least 60 years old;
- At least one of the applicants must show they have been domiciled and owned a home in Reading for at least 10 consecutive years; and
- The maximum assessed value of the property cannot exceed the prior year’s maximum assessed value allowed to qualify for the Senior Circuit Breaker.