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Senior Tax Relief

A discussion of the senior tax relief ballot question to be voted upon at the December 4, 2012 Special Town Meeting.

On Dec. 4, 2012, we will be voting for two ballot questions. One of these questions concerns whether to grant certain of our town’s seniors partial real estate tax relief. Those seniors will be eligible whose income just hasn’t keep pace with their real estate taxes--whose taxes exceed 10% of their income.

You might be asking:

  1. How will that impact our budget?  Will there be a shortfall in revenues?
  2. Why should we help our seniors?
  3. Will the seniors get away with paying no taxes.

 Well, first things first. Those seniors who qualify, and that’s about 20-25% of the towns seniors, would need to be asset-tested to see if they meet the criteria for tax relief. The number of seniors who might qualify is about 200-300 Sudbury’s seniors.  Yes, they would still be paying taxes, but their taxes would be capped at 10% of their income.

 Our town budget won’t be impacted because the cost of senior tax relief will be spread around other citizens whose real estate taxes would increase by just 1/2% in the first year and 1% after that.  On average, using 2012 real estate tax figures, this means an increase of about $50 - $100 per household.

 We need our seniors.  Sudbury’s seniors have a lot of free time and they help the town by volunteering for the F.I.S.H. program, voting booth duty, town park maintenance, the Bridges program for the 4th grade, just to name a few services that seniors provide. The best part is that the town gets all these services at no cost!

The seniors will still be paying their real estate taxes, but no more than 10% of their income.  In addition, to qualify, the seniors need to have been town residents for at least 10 years.  Clearly since they send no children to town schools, but do pay taxes as they have been for the last 10 years, they support the schools but don’t burden the school budget.

If you want to hear more about this issue, come to the Goodnow Library on Nov. 27 at 7 PM for the League of Women Voters Forum and discuss this issue as well as the other ballot question.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

pmotw November 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Are we going to do this for non-seniors in town who would meet the other qualifications? Other than making everyone else pay for this benefit, can't someone think of a better approach to keep the seniors from leaving town? How about running the town/schools more efficiently and lowering taxes for everyone? How about eliminating the CPA surcharge tax?
JON999 November 19, 2012 at 06:53 PM
can someone please clarify the following statement: "Those seniors who qualify, and that’s about 20-25% of the towns seniors, would need to be asset-tested to see if they meet the criteria for tax relief." Is there a statutory (required) asset test? if so, what is it and where can we see the details? thanks
Sudbury Citizen November 19, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Their is NO asset test !!!!!!!!! They want to give tax breaks for millionares. VOTE NO TO THIS BAD BALLOT QUESTION !!!!!!!! They want to take from the poor and give to the rich. BAD BAD BAD
x November 19, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Welcome to the Socialist Republic of Sudbury. "From each according to their ability; to each according to their need." Redistribution of income brings with it complications. Prepare for reduced real estate values amongst 'normal' buyers and sellers. The tax override will make neighboring communities more attractive. Also prepare for an influx of 'disadvantaged' seniors. Who, with limited income at retirement, would not wish to live in a town where others subsidized their lifestyle? Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
JON999 November 19, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I searched the www.malegislature.gov website for bill H.4062. here is the language on asset test: "The board of assessors may deny an application if they find the applicant has excessive assets that place them outside of the intended recipients of the senior exemption created by this act." so laws aren't really laws, just executive powers granted to our better angels. what is "excessive"? how will this be enforced - by submitting financial records to the Sudbury Assessors office? it will be very difficult to police this loophole.
LessIsMore November 19, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Vote no! Without a hard asset test the law is too loosely defined and open to abuse. While I have an issue with the fairness of preferential tax treatment for any special 'favored' groups, this formulation of law seems particularly insidious. Clearly it was not the intent of the law to subsidize the taxes of Seniors so that can keep there house in Sudbury while also maintaining there residences on the Cape and in FLA. This would be done on the backs of younger residents who are struggling to pay mortgages, support a family and save for college during a challenging economic environment.
Erich Waible November 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM
No one gives any weight to an opinion by someone who won't use thier own name on a post. I hope people use thier own judgement, education and ignore this tabloid crap from people to scared to comment under thier own names.
Sudbury Citizen November 20, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Mr. Stein, you have guts putting your name out their. I will also vote no. It is not fair wealthy seniors get a tax break. After this tax break we lose money on them. I am having trouble paying the bills and helping my kids do all the sports they want. My house is under water since we bought at the top of the market.
x November 20, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Please tell us where to sign up for the senior real estate waiting list in Sudbury. Realtors should gear up for a wave of elder buyers, not quite able to make ends meet, but expecting the ablebodied wage earners of the community to pick up the difference. Many of the latter people will quietly decamp to other towns with lower tax rates. The law of unintended consequences has not been suspended. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
JT November 20, 2012 at 11:10 PM
As a 59 year old resident, with the last 28 of those in Sudbury, I will definitely vote no because there is no asset test.
Erich Waible November 20, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Not gonna argue with ambiguity. Thank you for posting Mr. Stein.
Erich Waible November 20, 2012 at 11:38 PM
So I'm going to assume after reading this bill, no one trusts the board or assesors and this so called circuit breaker tax relief does not take into account ones assets for eligibility?"
Mike Hullinger November 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM
In reading the tax relief bill it appears to me that: 1. The intended recipient of the tax exemption is a person over the age of 65 whose total income in the prior year would qualify them for the state's circuit breaker tax credit. (The income limit for joint filers is $80,000). 2. There is no specified asset test to qualify for the circuit breaker. The proposed Sudbury senior tax relief bill as written leaves the definition of "excess assets" up to the discretion of the Board of Assessors. The bill does not require the Board of Assessors to develop a uniform set of guidelines for what constitutes excess assets. The determination is made at the time someone applies for the tax exemption. I guess in theory, I could be the sole owner of a Sudbury residence with a $15,000 tax bill and have less than $53,000 in income. I would be entitled to a real estate tax exemption of $9,700 ($15,000 minus $5,300). My loving wife could have significant assets titled soley in her name including significant amounts of dividend paying marketable securities, interest bearing bonds and real estate. Since the tax relief bill as worded does not require me to file a joint application, I could file the application in my name only as the sole owner of the property here in Sudbury. With no assets in my name and little income in my name, i would qualify for the tax exemption. Seems like an easily constructed loophole. Perhaps someone else can comment on this view.
Erich Waible November 21, 2012 at 05:06 AM
So the bill in this form leaves too many loop holes. Wasn't sure if I was reading it right. Not very fair giving up to 50 % property tax relief when a 6th grader can jump rope through the loop hole. Thank you Mike. Seems like circuit breaker tax relief needs some fixing too.

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