The Boston City Council voted unanimously to support a tax repayment ordinance filed by Lydia Edwards (District 1) and Ed Flynn (District 2). The ordinance helps elders who have fallen behind on property taxes by extending the length of time for repayment from one year to five years and by forgiving up to 50% interest. The city will consider expansion of the program to other resident taxpayers in the coming years.
“As a city, it’s critical we take every step possible to keep our elders housed and support Bostonians in building and retaining wealth over generations,” said Councilor Edwards. “This ordinance is a win-win, helping economically vulnerable taxpayers keep their homes while meeting tax obligations to the city. ”
Councilor Edwards originally called a hearing in April on tax repayment based on her experience at the Office of Housing Stability and her former colleagues at Greater Boston Legal Services testimony about working to prevent seniors from losing their homes. During the hearing process, it became clear that the city could and must do more to offer flexibility in repayment of back taxes and to ensure all residents, regardless of what language they speak, are aware of their tax obligations, exemptions and other programs.
Subsequently, Councilors Edwards and Flynn filed an ordinance to create a tax repayment plan. Cities like New Bedford, Springfield and Pittsfield have opted into similar tax repayment initiatives. Boston’s tax arrears repayment program will begin with a limited pool of residents, elder property owners, and the city will evaluate program expansion in 2020 and 2021.
“It is great to work with the Walsh Administration to provide more tools for our elderly residents and increase accessibility for non-English speaking Bostonians.” said co-sponsor Ed Flynn, District 2 City Councilor, ”Tax bills can be intimidating and this ordinance will make things easier for the taxpayers of Boston. I look forward to having this ordinance signed into law.”