Property tax relief for those on federal benefits

BOSTON (WWLP) – Two state lawmakers testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue, hoping to help people stay in their homes if their incomes are limited to social security, disability, or supplemental security income.

“The continuing increase in the property tax against no increase in social security and disabilities income causes a vulnerability to being unable to keep the home simply because of the increase in property tax,” said State Representative John Fernandes (D-Milford).

The new bill would provide some type of property tax relief for the nearly 400,000 people who live on federal benefits in Massachusetts. While this may be a relatively small population, there could be big impacts for cities and towns that depend on property tax revenues.

The bill is far from a done deal. State lawmakers still have to figure out how much revenue would be lost; whether the state could reimburse cities and towns and if some areas would be impacted more than others. But they agree it is an idea worth exploring because it involves a vulnerable group of people.

“Really, it means in some cases whether they can afford food or medicine or other needs that they have just to live in the community,” said State Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge).

The legislation is in its early stages. State lawmakers have a lot of questions to answer before the bill actually reaches the floor for debate.

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