See Press Release Below
BOSTON – Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn will hold a working session to discuss possible assistance programs for our seniors and long term city homeowners who have difficulties paying property taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The working session will be chaired by Councilor Kenzie Bok in the Committee of Ways and Means and held next Monday, March 8th, 3pm, and is a follow up to the public hearing held in February. To watch the working session, you can go to boston.gov/city-council-tv.
After speaking with many neighbors concerned about the significant property tax increase in recent weeks, Councilor Flynn was informed by the Assessing Department that values are based on the sales activity within each assessment district and that the city must adjust and keep at full fair cash value as required by law.
As a result, Councilor Flynn filed a hearing earlier this year to discuss possible assistance programs for our seniors and long term city homeowners who have difficulties paying property taxes during the pandemic. Property taxes can be a heavy financial burden for many long-term residents, particularly seniors on fixed incomes and families who may have bought their homes years ago before housing prices and property values skyrocketed in the city.
In January, Councilor Flynn also coordinated a meeting with Councilor Michael Flaherty, Representative David Biele, Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, and neighbors to discuss the concerns that residents have expressed and provide information on property tax exemptions and assistance that neighbors can apply for. In the meeting, Councilor Flynn spoke about how many residents are facing additional financial difficulties and may not be able to afford paying their property taxes. Councilor Flynn is advocating for additional assistance programs, such as potentially doubling the exemption for seniors over a certain age, while considering their income and evaluation. Councilor Flynn and Councilor Lydia Edwards also passed an ordinance two years ago aimed at low-income seniors to provide them the ability to enter payment plans with the city for up to five years, as well as cutting the interest rates by 50%. Representative Biele, Councilor Flaherty and Councilor Essaibi-George also spoke about their attention to this issue.
At the hearing in February, Assessing Commissioner Nick Ariniello spoke to neighbors about how the department calculates property taxes, deferral programs and the different types of exemptions that qualified homeowners can apply for. The City of Boston offers a number of property tax exemptions for residents who qualify, including for seniors who meet income limits and residency requirements, those who experience hardship, surviving spouses, minors with a deceased parent, veterans, and others. Residents need to apply for those exemptions by April 1st. For more inquiries about whether you qualify for certain exemptions and deferral programs available, please call the Taxpayer Referral & Assistance Center (TRAC) at (617) 635-4287 or Department of Assessing at (617)-635-4288.
“I know that many neighbors have serious concerns about the recent increase in property taxes, especially amidst the pandemic when so many of our residents are facing difficulties” said Councilor Flynn. “Our seniors and long time residents are an indispensable part of the soul of Boston, and it’s important that they continue to stay and thrive in our city. I look forward to the working session and having an in-depth conversation about what we can do to help those in need.”
For more information, please contact Councilor Flynn’s office at 617-635-3203 or Ed.Flynn@Boston.gov.