The Senior Citizens Tax Work Off and the Veterans Tax Work Off Programs are available to senior citizens, 60 years of age and older, and to veterans (regardless of age) who own property in select cities and towns in Massachusetts and pay real estate taxes. Veterans who are interested in tax abatement must interview with a Veterans’ Services Agent.
For both the Senior Citizens and Veterans Tax Work Off programs, participants must work the specified number of service hours set by their city or town. Individuals can receive up to $1,500 in property tax credit minus the required withholdings. This amount will be applied to the participant’s real estate tax bill in the following fiscal year; it is never applied to the current year’s property tax bill.
Eligibility Requirements for Senior Citizens Tax Work Off and Veterans Tax Work Off Programs
To be eligible for either the Senior Citizens Tax Work Off Program or the Veterans Tax Work Program, an individual must:
own a home in the city or town where they apply and pay property taxes on that home (only one abatement allowed per household);
be current with property tax payments;
meet local program requirements, such as income limits or years of residency; and
offer a skill that their local government can use.
Local programs set their own rules for the Senior Citizens and Veterans Tax Work Off Programs using state guidelines. Hours worked may not be shared with another family member. Each individual must fulfill the total hours of service obligation that they agreed to do in order to receive the tax credit. However, based on need, the city or town may place the participant in more than one job in order to fulfill the total hours.
The participant must:
possess and identify employable skills;
complete the application and provide necessary income verification;
be interviewed for job placement;
complete a CORI check and/or provide references if required by the work site;
complete all hours of work. No other person can work on the senior or veteran’s behalf to fulfill hours; and
provide annual income eligibility verification for continuing participation in the program.
To receive the maximum tax credit participants must complete the specified number of hours. If less than the maximum hours are completed, a pro-rated tax credit will be issued based on the number of hours worked.
Income from Participation
Any earnings paid through wages (i.e., a reduction in property tax in return for work hours) must have Federal and Medicare taxes withheld. The individual will receive a W-2 from their city or town for the year in which they participated in the program. Although the participant receives a W2, the individual never has access to these funds. The Treasurer or Comptroller of the city/town will send the money to the corresponding city/town Assessor’s Office to apply a credit to the participant’s property tax bill; no money is received by the individual.
Any earnings received through the Senior Citizens Tax Work Off Program or the Veteran Tax Work Off Program is noncountable for SNAP and must be excluded when determining a household’s eligibility and benefit level.
Property Tax Bill
Participants will receive a credit on their property tax bill. The credit will appear under Exemptions, Deferrals, and Abatements. Abatements, exemptions, and deferrals are to be excluded from the property tax expense amount entered in BEACON. The property tax expense must be entered as the property tax amount less the abatement amount. Please see example below.
John Smith is a 63-year-old client certified on EDSAP reporting. He submits his recertification form along with a W-2 and a property tax bill from the Town of Northampton. A FAW receives the action for processing.
The property tax bill is for a total of $3,369.48 annually (Res Tax $3,290.24 + CPA $79.24), but the FAW finds that the property tax bill shows a credit of $2,106.96 for the Senior Citizen Tax Work Off Program. This amount is identical to the income reported on the W-2. The worker is able to deduce that the W-2 represents the client’s Senior Citizens Tax Work Off income.
Although the W-2 is for the previous year, the worker can apply the tax deduction to the current property tax bill, as it has not previously been deducted. The worker does not enter the income, as it is noncountable for SNAP benefits and enters the annual property tax expense of $1,262.52 ($3,369.48- $2,106.96).