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New local options create more tax options for seniors

The town council in Franklin, Massachusetts, has accepted a new measure offered by the state that allows senior citizens to defer two new types of charges. Seniors residing in the town already had the option to defer property taxes, but they now can also include their water and sewer bills to the deferment program.

The taxation plan would allow homeowners the age of 65 older to defer up to half of their property tax, water bill and sewage bill. These senior homeowners would be allowed to defer those taxes until they either decide to sell their home or their death. The program would generally give the homeowners an additional $3,000 to $4,000. The program also includes an exemption for senior citizens on betterment charges, such as upgrades to the sewer system.

Despite the plan's benefits, few residents have actually taken advantage of the tax deferral program. Recent census data shows that there are approximately 3,000 residents over the age of 65 in Franklin; of that, only one family is participating in the tax deferral program. Town officials believe that the low participation rate is not due to a lack of awareness on the part of seniors but due to an unwillingness to place a lien on their home. Franklin requires the plan participants to place a lien on their home to which the town would benefit. Most Franklin seniors are not agreeable to this and dismiss the program out of hand on this basis.

If senior citizens were to participate in such a program, they might also seize the opportunity to take a broader look at their tax picture and ensure that they are taking advantage of all opportunities available to them.

Source: Milford Daily News, "Franklin OKs tax deferral options for seniors," Matt Tota, Oct. 4, 2012

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