Councilor Lydia Edwards has called a hearing to ensure the City of Boston uses every tool at its disposal to ensure taxpayers can stay in their home during times of economic difficulty – particularly for senior citizens.
Today, seniors and low-income homeowners who are “house rich, cash poor” face a big hurdle when they fall behind on property taxes. Although the city offers payment plans for back taxes, these plans require a substantial down payment and must be completed within one year. Homeowners who cannot repay back taxes within one year are at risk of foreclosure.
Councilor Edwards is pushing for Boston to expand the length of tax repayment and forgive a portion of interest on back taxes. State law allows municipalities to extend repayment of property taxes from one year to as long as five years and to forgive up to half the interest on back taxes. Adopting these provisions would reduce burdens on homeowners and allow more residents to stay in their homes.
“As city agencies work to stabilize our communities and address the many housing and economic challenges we face, we should use all tools at our disposal to prevent crisis scenarios before they start,” said Edwards. “Offering another tool to seniors and low-income homeowners on repayment of late taxes is one simple step we could take to prevent foreclosures and allow residents facing economic challenges to stay in place.”
Greater Boston Legal Services has also signed on to the measure, pledging their support.
“Today, too many elderly and low-income Boston residents face increasing property tax bills that they cannot afford,” said Todd S. Kaplan, Senior Attorney of Greater Boston Legal Services. “By offering these residents more flexible payment plans to pay their back taxes with the opportunity to reduce accrued interest, we can help homeowners get current on their taxes and take real steps to ensuring Boston is a city for people of all ages and income levels.”