Low-income seniors could benefit from Wu’s property tax bill
Mayor Michelle Wu hopes to extend property tax relief to more seniors.
The mayor signed a bill that included a measure that would increase the eligibility threshold for low-income seniors who own and live in their homes and apply for tax relief through the municipal program Program 41C.
Currently, seniors who want to take advantage of the program need a gross income of $24,911 or less if single and $37,367 if married. Also, the estate, excluding the value of the property, cannot exceed $40,000 for singles or $55,000 for married couples.
Those who qualify can receive $1,000 in tax relief for the current fiscal year. Applicants may also be eligible to receive an additional amount of up to $1,000 under certain conditions.
Wu’s bill aims to increase income eligibility to $47,000 for singles and $53,700 for couples. The conditions of eligibility to the succession would be doubled. The minimum tax exemption would also increase to $1,500 and cap at $3,000.
City officials estimate that the number of senior homeowners with qualifying income would increase from about 4,600 to about 8,700.
The bill is considered a bylaws petition, so it must go through the state legislature and governor before the city can move forward.
“We are hopeful and determined that working with state partners, we will seize recognition of the urgency and need to act on solutions to keep our families housed,” Wu said.
The provision is included in a bill that again seeks to establish a real estate sales tax in Boston.
Wu wants to add a tax of up to 2% on sales over $2 million. The tax would take effect after the first $2 million and would generate nearly $100 million a year, according to city estimates. The money would go to Neighborhood Housing Trustthat creates and preserves affordable housing.
The bill has already been defeated by members of the real estate industry and Governor Charlie Baker.
The governor told WGBH “as a rule I don’t support this stuff” and “there’s a lot of money to support housing.”
“We still have billions of dollars of resources available under ARPA that we haven’t spent yet and we have a large state surplus,” Baker said.
Greater Boston Real Estate Board CEO Greg Vasil testified against the bill at a City Council hearing and plans to continue his opposition as planned for the State House.
“It’s a political move to sell hope,” Vasil said. “We are clearly against the tax because we believe there are other ways to generate the revenue they need.”
Vasil pointed out the Community Preservation Act. The law was passed in 2016 by ballot and allowed the city to create a fund partially financed by a 1% surtax on residential and business property tax. Revenues are dedicated to affordable housing, historic preservation, open spaces and public recreation.
State Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley is the state house sponsor for the bill. She said the proposed legislation will allow the city to focus more specifically on affordable housing than on the Preservation Act, and, given the pandemic, “now is not the time for us to do the same. thing”.
“I kinda don’t care about people who say ‘Oh, let’s just do business as usual and see what happens’ when the life, stability and health of the community is at stake,” the state representative said. .
Fluker Oakley said she plans to file the bill in the coming weeks.