Several exemptions are available under Massachusetts General Law to reduce property tax obligations for certain qualifying taxpayers:
Surviving Spouse or Orphaned Minor Child
Widow or Orphaned Minor of Police Officer or Firefighter
Exemptions are distinguished from abatements in that exemptions refer to the person while abatements refer to the property.
The qualification date is July 1, the first day of the fiscal year. To qualify for most exemptions, the applicant must own and occupy the property as of the July 1 qualification date. In most cases, the applicant must have owned and occupied real estate in Massachusetts for the preceding five years and Massachusetts must have been the applicant's domicile for the preceding ten years. When the third quarter actual tax bill is sent to taxpayers in late December, applications are due within three months of the mailing date.
For certain exemptions, applicants may be required to provide a copy of their birth certificate, income tax forms filed in the previous calendar year, or a statement indicating that the applicant does not file income tax forms. If there are multiple owners of the property, the eligibility of the applicant may be affected; however, there may be instances when a pro-rated exemption could be granted.
Tax Deferral Program
Many retired homeowners feel house-rich and income-poor. Property taxes constitute a serious financial burden, which can even force the sale of the home. Rockland offers a tax deferral program, which enables owners to defer payment of up to 100% of annual property taxes. Deferred taxes accumulate with simple interest at 8% as a lien on the property until it is sold or the owner's estate is settled. The total amount of such deferred taxes approved plus interest shall not exceed 50% of the owner's proportional share of the full and fair cash value of such real property.
Owners of Property in Trust
Trust ownership arrangements may affect qualification for a statutory exemption. As a general rule, an applicant must be a trustee and a beneficiary and provide:
A copy of a recorded trust instrument, including amendments
A copy of the schedule of beneficiaries. Consult your attorney if these requirements affect you