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Tax season is upon us!

Here's what seniors need to know to save money

The income tax filing due date for tax year 2016 is April 18, 2017.

Senior Circuit Breaker Credit

Jan 2017 Senior tax info imageThe new year is here, the income tax deadline will arrive before you know it! Discuss these and other opportunities that may be available with your tax preparer soon.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) website, the “Senior Circuit Breaker Credit,” for tax year 2016, this credit (or refund if no taxes are due) could be up to $1,070 for eligible taxpayers.

You may qualify if:

  • You are 65 or older on or before December 31, 2016
  • You own or rent in Massachusetts as principal residence
  • Your total income does not exceed:
    • Single: $57,000
    • Married filing jointly: $85,000
    • Head of household: $71,000
  • Your assessed real estate valuation does not exceed $720,000

If you are a homeowner paying real estate taxes, the credit you can receive is equal to your real estate tax payments in that year that exceed 10% of your total income. For example, if your income is $30,000, then 10% of your income is $3,000; if you pay $3,800 in real estate taxes, then you would be eligible for a credit of $3,800 minus $3,000, which equals $800.

For renters, the credit you can receive is equal to 25% of your total rent payments for the year minus 10% of your total income. For example, if your income is $25,000, then 10% of your income is $2,500; if you pay $12,300/year in rent, then 25% of your rent is $3075. Because $3075 minus $2500 equals $575, this would be the eligible credit amount.

To claim the Circuit Breaker Credit, you must file a Massachusetts state income tax return, even if you typically don’t file a return and include Schedule CB, the Circuit Breaker Credit form. You can file your tax return for FREE online through the Department of Revenue’s “WebFile for Income” or download forms at mass.gov/dor.

Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement

If you are over 60, you may be able to earn a credit through the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement against your taxes by sharing your skills and interests with your community through volunteer work for your municipality. In participating towns, you can submit any proposal idea to your town officials for approval, and your time is credited at the Massachusetts minimum wage of $11 per hour in exchange for a reduction in your property tax bills — up to $1,000 per year. In some communities, you may be able to designate another person to do the volunteer work if you face a physical challenge, while still receiving the benefit. Towns may have limits on the number of participants or income criteria, and slots are usually available separately for veterans of all ages or their surviving spouses. Check with your city or town to see if they participate in this, or any related, program.

Learn more about tax information for seniors

Find this and more tax information for seniors online at mass.gov/dor/individuals/seniors-students-and-military-personnel/seniors-and-retirees.