New senior volunteer program provides tax benefit

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Town of Southwick has officially announced a brand new program for senior citizens. The Senior Citizen Tax Work-Off Program allows qualified Southwick senior citizens, who are taxpayers, to volunteer for a town department.

The program was created by Cindy Sullivan, the Southwick Council on Aging Director, and Bob Horacek, the Vice-Chairman of the Finance Committee.

By volunteering, the senior citizens will be able to receive an abatement on their property tax. According to Sullivan, the individuals will be able to get a maximum of $1,500 off their taxes.

Sullivan realizes the challenges that seniors may have to go through.

“Their income isn’t going up, but taxes and the cost of living has increased,” said Sullivan.

Being a new program, a total of 10 seniors will be accepted, and if there are more than 10 that apply, a lottery system will be created.

There is a certain amount of criteria that a senior would have to meet in order to be part of this program. Applicants have to be 60 years or older by July 1, be the owner of a permanent residence, and can’t be a paid employee for the Town of Southwick. There are a number of other guidelines, and in order to find out more about them, contact Sullivan at 569-5498.

Income guidelines are also involved in this program. As of July 21, 2016, the applicant’s single income must be under $42,210. If the applicant is married, the income must be under $56,840. Both of those numbers are 3.5 times the 2017 poverty guidelines set by the state.

The program will begin on July 17 and last until February 28 and members of the program will have to volunteer up to 136 hours.

Not only does Sullivan believe they have established fair requirements, there will be plenty of departments that will give seniors opportunities to volunteer.

“It’s definitely reasonable requirements to get some people volunteer hours,” said Sullivan. “They’re jobs that seniors will be able to do.”

A few of those departments include the police department, animal control, the town beach, and the school district.

If any senior citizens in Southwick are interested in the program and meet all of the requirements, you can walk into the Council on Aging office, which is located on the first floor of the town hall.

Once completing the application you will have to make an appointment with Sullivan so she can go over it.

Sullivan noted that she needs to know by June 1 who wants to apply and the deadline for applications is June 16.