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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 2017 is April 17, 2017. If you need assistance filing your taxes, there are several free options for people with low incomes. Community Action of Franklin, Hampshire, and North Quabbin Regions offers a Free Tax-Assistance Program for residents of Franklin and Hampshire Counties as well as Athol, Petersham, Royalston, and Phillipston in Worcester County. For more information or to request an appointment, call 413-376-1136. Athol Council on Aging (COA) will be helping elders with tax prep beginning in February; interested seniors should call 978-249-8986 to add their name and contact number to the waiting list to called back to schedule appointments at the COA. 

According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) website, the “Senior Circuit Breaker Credit,” for tax year 2017, this credit (or refund if no taxes are due) could be up to $1,080 for eligible taxpayers.

You may qualify if:  

  • You must be a Massachusetts resident or part-year resident.
  • You must be 65 or older by December 31, 2017.
  • You must own or rent residential property in Massachusetts and occupy it as your primary residence.
  • For the tax year, your total Massachusetts income doesn't exceed:
    • $57,000 for a single individual who is not the head of a household.
    • $72,000 for a head of household.
    • $86,000 for married couples filing a joint return.
  • If you are a homeowner, your Massachusetts property tax payments, together with half of your water and sewer expense, must exceed 10% of your total Massachusetts income for the tax year.
  • If you are a renter, 25% of your annual Massachusetts rent must exceed 10% of your total Massachusetts income for the tax year.

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 “MassTaxConnect” or download forms at

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.

Find this and more tax information for seniors online.