Tax Break For Seniors?

Plans are afoot to submit a permanent tax increase — an override — to Shrewsbury’s voters. If the amount of the override is limited just to the School Department’s request of $6.8 million, then the average homeowner will suffer an increase in their property tax of over $500, an increase that will never decrease or disappear.

That’s the equivalent of buying a new washer or dryer every year and giving it to the town. For retirees on fixed incomes and for some young families, that’s a big burden.

Proponents of an override have said that they want to pay higher taxes. Would they be willing to pay higher taxes to help those who can’t afford the tax increase that the proponents want?

A state law — Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5C — allows towns to exempt up to 20 percent of a home’s assessed value. At least 13 communities have adopted this exemption. The town of Sudbury has also tried to help its seniors. On Dec. 4, 2012, Sudbury voters accepted Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2012, which allows up to a 50 percent reduction in property taxes for seniors whose income is below a certain level.

Proponents of an override say that they’re willing to pay higher taxes in order to help schoolchildren. But before any tax increase is put on the ballot, one of these exemptions should be approved in order to protect another group of vulnerable citizens.