An exemption is a release from the obligation of having to pay taxes on all or part of a parcel of real property. Personal Exemptions are a reduction in taxes due to a particular personal circumstance and qualifications set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws. The burden is on the applicant to show that he or she falls within the expressed terms of the exemption provision.
Personal Exemptions must be filed no later than December fifteenth of each year or three months after the mailing of the first actual tax bill (usually in December), whichever is later. Exemptions are granted for one year only. An application must be filed each year.
Full or partial exemptions are provided in the General Laws for the following persons:
- Elderly, Clause 41C
- Surviving Spouse (Widow/Widower), Minor Child of a Deceased Parent, Elderly - Clause 17D
- Blind - Clause 37A
- Veteran - Clause 22
- Tax Deferral - Clause 41A
Elderly - Clause 41C
Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Clause - 41C exemption.
- Must be 68 years or older or joint owner with a spouse who is 68 years or older before July 1 of the tax year.
- Must own and occupy property on July 1 of the tax year. Also must have been continuously domiciled in Massachusetts 10 years prior to application and owned any property in Massachusetts for the preceding five years.
- Income and asset limits apply to this exemption and are adjusted by a COLA annually
Surviving Spouse (Widow/Widower), Minor Child of a Deceased Parent, Elderly - Clause 17D
- Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Clause - 17D exemption:
- Must have Owned and occupied the property as of July 1 of the tax year.
- For Surviving Spouse exemption, must provide death certificate for deceased spouse dated prior to July 1. This need only be provided the first year of application.
- Birth Certificate (Minor Child)
- For elderly exemption, must have reached the age of 70 prior to July 1 and have owned the property for at least five years.
- Assets limitations apply to this exemption
Blind Exemption - Clause 37A
Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Blind - Clause 37A exemption:
- Must be declared legally blind as of July 1st of the year of application.
- Applicant must be registered with and obtain a certificate from the Massachusetts Division of the Blind as of July 1st of each year.
- Must have owned and occupied the property as of July 1.
Veteran with Service Connected Disability - Clause 22
Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Veteran - Clause 22 exemption:
- At least 10% Wartime service connected disability
- Owned and occupied the property as of July 1.
- Lived in Massachusetts 6 months prior to entering service or lived in Massachusetts for five consecutive years before filing for exemption.
- Must have certificate of disability from the Veterans Administration, which remains, on file. 100% disabled must have certificate each year.
- Exemption Amount - varies with type of veterans’ exemption.
- Minimum $400 (most exemptions) Maximum $1,000
Tax Deferral - Clause 41A
Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Tax Deferral - Clause 41A:
- A tax deferral allows elderly taxpayers (over age 65), with annual incomes of less than $40,000 to defer payment on all, or portion, of their property tax.
- This deferral is not an exemption.
- The amount of the deferral, together with 5% annual interest on the deferred amount, must eventually be repaid when the property is:
- Transferred or upon the death of the owner
- The deferral becomes a lien on the property
- A tax deferral is helpful when a taxpayer's current expenses make the continued ownership of his/her home difficult.
How to Apply for Personal Exemptions
Taxpayers have three months from the mailing of the actual tax bill (usually in December) to file a Clause Exemption Application with the Assessors Office. Applicants should check the postmark of the Third Quarter bill envelope.
Taxpayers must pay the full amount indicated on this bill by February 1, even if they have an application pending.
If their application is subsequently approved, the amount of the exemption will be credited to their Third and Fourth Quarter tax bill.
- A taxpayer may not receive more than one of these exemptions. If, however, taxpayers qualify for more than one of these exemptions, the Assessors will encourage them to apply for and receive the exemption, which saves them the most money.
- The base amounts of the exemptions range from $175 to $1,000, depending on the exemption type.
- There are other more specific exemptions (surviving spouse of police officers and fire fighters killed in the line of duty, paraplegic veterans) for which the Assessors can provide information.