Tax Relief for Seniors


Property Tax Exemptions, Deferrals, Credits, & Tax Breaks for Senior Citizens
FY 2021: July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

1)  Introduction

  1. By state law, exemptions or deferrals are allowed to qualified seniors. This information sheet is intended to answer questions for those individuals interested in lessening their tax responsibilities. Included in the programs described below are the changes that The Town of Duxbury has adopted. These programs offer the possibility of a tax reduction, a tax deferral and a tax credit for property taxes paid by seniors. They are referred to by the names of the different clauses of Chapter 59, Section 5 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

2)  General Information

  1. What Is An Exemption? As used in the context of real estate taxes, an exemption is a release from the obligation to pay all or a portion of the taxes assessed on certain real property. Exemptions are conferred by the state legislature (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5) on particular categories of persons or property.  The categories of persons on whom exemptions are conferred are listed below, together with an explanation of the eligibility requirements for each. Exemptions are not abatements in that they do not affect the assessed valuation of the property. They simply reduce the taxes owed. All exemptions are subject to requirements regarding the ownership of the home (domicile).
  2. Applications: Applications for the various tax exemption programs are available from the Assessing Department.  An application must be filed with the assessors each year within three months of the mailing date of the third quarter actual tax bill.  The third quarter actual tax bill is usually mailed in late December each year.  Exemptions are not processed until this actual tax bill is generated. The filing of the exemption application does not release the Town from the collection of the tax, which should always be paid as assessed and as it appears on the tax bill. An exemption, even if received in prior years, is not automatically conferred.  Rather, it must be specifically acted upon each year by the Board of Assessors.  The Assessors’ action is discretionary only insofar as they determine that an applicant, according to the documentation he or she provides, does or does not meet the eligibility requirements.  Notice of the Assessors’ action will be sent to each applicant.
  3. Documentation: As exemptions are granted only for the primary residence, and as some exemptions are age dependent and/or means tested, an applicant must provide whatever information the Assessing Department deems to be reasonably required to establish eligibility. The information that an applicant may be requested to furnish includes, but is not limited to: (1) birth certificates, (2) evidence of domicile and occupancy, (3) income tax returns, (4) bank and or investment statements.

3)  Individual Exemption Programs

  1. Clause 17E: (Fiscal Year 2021 Cost of Living Amounts (C.O.L.A.) adjustments are reflected in the following $ amounts).
    1. Amount: $299.00.
    2. Eligibility: As of the previous July 1st, an individual must be either (1) a surviving spouse or surviving minor child who owns and occupies the property as his or her domicile; or (2) a person at least 70 years old who has owned and occupied the property as his or her domicile for at least the five preceding years.
    3. Income: There are no income guidelines for Clause 17E.
    4. Assets: The applicant’s assets (cash, bank balances, stocks, bonds, some types of personal property, etc.) excluding the value of the domicile (up to three living units), cannot exceed $62,179.
  2. Clause 41D: (Fiscal Year 2021 Cost of Living Amounts (C.O.L.A.) adjustments are reflected in the following $ amounts).
    1. Amount: $1,000
    2. Eligibility: As of the previous July 1, an individual must be at least 70 years old, must have owned and occupied the property for at least the five preceding years and must have been domiciled in Massachusetts for at least the ten preceding years.
    3. Income: Qualifications include, combined gross income not in excess of $44,591 per year if married, gross income not in excess of $29,725 if single. Income amounts can be increased by fiscal year 2021 allowable social security deductions determined by the Commissioner of Revenue of $7,251 if married and $4,834 if single. The applicant’s gross receipts from all sources in the year preceding the application must not have exceeded $51,842 if married and $34,559 if single.
    4. Assets: The applicant’s assets, excluding the value of the domicile (up to three living units) cannot exceed $79,757 if married and $58,006 if single.
    5. Applicants are required to bring copies of their Federal Tax Form 1040, proof of earnings from social security and any other source of income from calendar year 2019 and copies of bank and/or stock/bond/security statements showing balances as of July 1, 2020.
  3. Exemption From The Community Preservation Act Surcharge
    1.  Residents who are age 60 or Low Income may be exempt from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge.
    2.  Applicant’s income must be below certain levels, applicants must file annually. Applications must include a copy of their 2019 federal tax return and/or any other documentation to verify any income or expenses claimed.   Income from all family members living at the property applied for and all sources are considered in determining eligibility.  The income levels must be equal to or below that which is shown in the table below.
    3.  Applications must be filed prior to the deadline of April 1, 2021. Application forms are available at the Assessing Department office, 781-934-1100, ext. 6010.
    4. Those who are currently participating in the Town’s existing tax exemption programs 41A and 41D have automatically received the CPA exemption and need not file a CPA exemption application. Any other exemption will reduce your CPA surcharge by one percent of that exemption amount; for a full exemption of the CPA in these cases, a separate CPA exemption application is required.
  1. Other Exemption Programs:  In addition to the exemptions already described, there are several other kinds of property tax exemptions under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5:
    1. Varieties of Clause 22 exemptions are available for certain categories of disabled veterans and their families.  
    2. Clauses 37 or 37A exemptions are available to a blind person.
    3. A Clause 42 exemption is available for a surviving spouse of a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty.
    4. A Clause 43 exemption is available to minor children of a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty.
    5. If you think you qualify for any of these exemptions, you may file an application with the Board of Assessors.

4)  Deferral of Property Taxes

  1. Clause 41A Tax Deferral: If you are unable to qualify for an exemption under any of the clauses described above, or if these exemptions do not help you enough in paying your real estate taxes, you might consider applying for a tax deferral under Clause 41A. A deferral permits you to delay payment on property taxes.
  2. If you qualify for a Clause 41A tax deferral, you enter into an agreement with the Town of Duxbury to defer payment of all or part of your taxes plus four percent interest yearly.  Entry into tax deferral creates a lien on the property, which is recorded by the Town at the Registry of Deeds.  The deferred amounts can cumulate year after year until they equal fifty percent of the assessed value of the property.
    1. Amount: Any portion or all of the yearly taxes assessed may be deferred (not exempted), with interest, (4% annually) at such time, as the property is sold or transferred, or until the death of the owner. At, which point the taxes and must be paid. (If the payment is not made within 30 days from the date of death, the interest rate increases to 16%). 
    2. Eligibility: As of July 1 of the tax year, an individual must be at least 65 years old.
    3. Income: The applicant’s gross receipts from all sources in the year preceding the application cannot have exceeded $60,000.
    4. Assets: There are no asset requirements for Clause 41A.
  3. Clause 18A Tax Deferral: You may be able to defer all or a portion of the taxes assessed on your domicle if you do not have the financial resources to pay them because of a change to active military servce (not including intial emlistment), unemployment, illness or other type of temporary hardship. You may file an application if you owned and occupied the property as of July1, lived in Massachusetts for at least the previous 10 years and meet all the qualifications for a financial hardship.


5)  Tax Work-Off Program

Under a program administered by the Council on Aging, the Town may provide residents age 65 as July 1st with a property tax reduction.  Up to $1000 can be deducted from the property tax in exchange for volunteer services, minus any applicable payroll deductions. The amount of the tax reduction is not subject to the Massachusetts personal income tax; but the federal income tax does apply.  Elder volunteers are considered public employees when volunteering.  For more information, seniors should contact the Council On Aging.

6)  The State Income Tax Circuit Breaker (Contact your accountant for update)

  1. A Massachusetts income tax credit program is available to help eligible seniors reduce their property tax even further. This program provides a tax credit to assist low and moderate-income seniors in paying property taxes and utility charges. Under this program, eligible homeowners and renters receive a refundable credit on their state income taxes, if they file annual income tax returns (for the previous taxable year). Contact your accountant for update.
  2. To qualify for the credit on the Massachusetts 2018 tax return, a person must be at least 65 years of age.

FY 2020 Community Preservation Act Surcharge Exemption Income Limits:

Number in FamilySenior (Age 60+) LimitNon Senior Limit