Tax Rate Drops for Homeowners

The City of Boston has released its 2015 tax rates and is down from $12.58 per one thousand dollars in assessed value to $12.11. However, the lower tax rates shows that the average single family property tax bill increased slightly, from $3,417 last year to $3,525, an increase of $108 due to rising real estate market in Charlestown and other neighborhoods exhibiting greater levels of appreciation compared to the prior year.

For example in Charlestown a single family home on Crystal Place was assessed at $579,800 for 2015 compared to the $316,700 assessed value last year. Even with the lower tax rate the homeowner is now paying approximately $3,036 more for FY2015.

Also the hot market for multi-family homes in Charlestown has dramatically increased the assessed value. A two-family home in Monument Square that was assessed last year at $700,900 is now assessed at $779,200–an increase of $78,300 in value. Even with the lower tax rate this homeowner will pay nearly $620 more this year in property tax.

However, Mayor Martin Walsh pointed out that residential taxes in Boston remain extremely competitive. Compared to other cities and towns in Massachusetts, Boston’s average single-family tax bill is 30 percent below last year’s statewide average of $5,020. In addition, the City has a number of programs for eligible property owners to lower their tax bills, including the residential exemption that is only available in 12 other Massachusetts municipalities. This exemption is available to taxpayers who own and occupy their home as the principal residence. The residential exemption will save qualifying taxpayers $1,879.53 off their tax bills in Fiscal 2015.

“I am proud of our City’s fiscal well being, our competitiveness, and our strengthening local economy,” said Mayor Walsh. “I encourage eligible residents to take advantage of resources available to help lower their taxes and keep Boston affordable.”

Boston taxpayers may also save on their tax bill with personal exemptions that are available to qualified homeowners who are blind, surviving spouses or minor children of deceased parents, veterans (with a wartime service-related disability), and members of the National Guard serving overseas during the tax year. For elderly taxpayers whose current expenses have made it difficult to continue to own their home, the City offers a tax deferral program. To qualify for Fiscal 2015, taxpayers must be age 65 or older and have an income of less than $56,000 per year. The amount of the deferred taxes, plus interest accruing at a rate of 4% per year, must be repaid when the property is sold or upon the passing of the owner.

The City has also initiated additional relief measures to ease the property tax burden. They include adjustments to the qualifying income limit and interest rate for the tax deferral program as well as increasing the property tax exemption amount for elderly taxpayers with limited income from $500 to $750 and lowering the age requirement for this exemption from 70 to 65. The Mayor and the City Council have also recently taken action to expand the City’s tax relief tools by passing a home rule petition that would allow for tax deferrals for certain long-term homeowners.

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