With the 2018 tax filing season now underway, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is encouraging Massachusetts residents who are 65 and older to apply for the state’s Circuit Breaker tax credit.
Created by the Legislature in 1999, the Circuit Breaker offers financial relief to seniors when their property tax payments exceed 10 percent of their annual income. Qualifying homeowners and renters can claim a credit of up to $1,100 on their 2018 state income tax form to offset the property taxes paid on their principal residence.
Representative Jones noted that the tax credit is available to Massachusetts residents who:
- Are 65 or older as of December 31, 2018 (for taxpayers filing jointly, only one tax filer has to be 65 to qualify);
- Own or rent residential property in Massachusetts and occupy the property as their principal residence (seniors living in public or subsidized housing are not eligible for the tax credit);
- Have an annual income that does not exceed $58,000 for a single filer who is not ahead of a household, $73,000 for a head of household, or $88,000 for married couples filing a joint return; and
- Have property assessed at no more than $778,000 (before residential exemptions but after abatements).
The tax credit is calculated based on the amount by which a qualifying homeowner’s property tax payments – including municipal water and sewer charges but excluding any abatement or exemption – exceed 10 percent of their total income. The tax credit is also available to qualifying renters if 25 percent of their annual rent payments exceed 10 percent of their total income for the tax year in which the credit is being claimed.
To claim the tax credit, taxpayers must complete a Schedule CB (Circuit Breaker Credit) form with their 2018 state income tax return. Eligible seniors must file a return to claim the tax credit even if they do not owe taxes.
Individuals who qualified for the tax credit in a previous tax year but did not file a Schedule CB form with their original state income tax return can file an amended return with their 2018 Schedule CB. Qualifying individuals have up to three years from the original tax filing deadline to claim the tax credit.
Representative Jones encourages anyone interested in learning more about the Circuit Breaker tax credit to visit https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-the-circuit-breaker-credit or to contact the Department of Revenue Customer Service Bureau at 617-887-6367 (toll-free at 1-800-392-6089) for additional information. Phone lines are staffed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
DOR is also conducting a series of informational sessions on the Circuit Breaker. The complete schedule is available at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/senior-circuit-breaker-credit-information-sessions.