Welcome to an informational session on exemptions and tax credits available to property owners in Shrewsbury. In this article, we will discuss various exemptions, their qualifications, and the process for obtaining them. The Council on Aging, along with the Principal Assessor, Ruth Anderson, and Assistant Assessor, Greg Hamilton, will provide valuable information on these programs.
What are Exemptions?
Exemptions are credits available by law that can be applied to your tax bill. These statutory exemptions are offered in every town in the Commonwealth, although the specific details may vary. The law outlines the qualifications and amount of credit for each exemption. Unlike loans, these credits do not have to be paid back and are based on individual qualifications.
Categories of Exemptions
- Legal blindness: If you or your spouse are legally blind, you may qualify for a $500 tax credit. Proof of legal blindness can be provided through a certificate from the Commission for the Blind or a letter from a doctor.
- Veterans: Veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 10% may qualify for a $400 tax credit. Additional credits are available for veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart or have experienced significant disabilities.
- Surviving spouses: Surviving spouses of service members who died as a result of their service may qualify for a full exemption, wiping out their total tax bill.
- Elderly exemption: Individuals over 65 with limited income and assets may qualify for an exemption. Income limits are set by law, and asset limits refer to cash assets. Proof of age and financial statements are required for this exemption.
- CPA surcharge exemption: Shrewsbury residents may have noticed a new charge called the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge on their tax bill. Those with income below the median household income for Shrewsbury can apply for an exemption from this surcharge.
- Deferral: In situations where property owners cannot pay their taxes, a deferral may be an option. This allows the taxes to be paid back at a later time, typically when the property is sold. Specific income requirements and a lien on the property are associated with a deferral.
General Qualifications and Application Process
To be eligible for any exemption, property owners must both own and occupy the property as their primary residence. All information provided must be accurate as of July 1st, the start of the fiscal year. Income information is based on the prior calendar year, and applicants must reapply each year. Assurance of privacy is guaranteed, as exemption applications are not open to the public. The Principal Assessor’s office and the Board of Assessors are the only entities authorized to view exemption applications.
Applying for Exemptions
Applicants must complete the exemption application form and submit it along with the required supporting documents. Documents may include birth certificates, tax returns, and proof of age or disability. Each exemption has specific documentation requirements, so it is crucial to review the instructions carefully. Property owners who qualify for an exemption will receive the application form for the following year automatically.
Senior Workout Program
Shrewsbury also offers a senior workout program managed by the Council on Aging. Participants in this program can volunteer in a specific town department to earn credits on their tax bill instead of a paycheck. It is important to note that these credits are considered income by the IRS and should be accounted for when applying for other income-based programs.
Exemptions and tax credits can significantly alleviate the tax burden for qualified property owners. Understanding the various categories and qualifications is essential to take advantage of these benefits. By accessing this information, Shrewsbury residents can make informed decisions regarding exemptions and ensure they receive the credits they are entitled to. For more detailed information or to begin the application process, individuals are encouraged to contact the Principal Assessor’s office or visit the Council on Aging.