The following has been submitted to the Salem Gazette by Salem City Hall:
On December 21, Governor Charlie Baker signed a special bill introducing the Salem Senior Tax Exemption Program, a new and broader property tax exemption program for qualified older adults in Salem.
The measure was proposed by Mayor Kim Driscoll and, upon approval by Salem City Council, was forwarded to the state assembly, where Rep. Paul Tucker and Senator Joan Lovely helped bring it to the governor’s desk.
With STEP, qualified seniors can have a percentage of their breaker income tax credit deducted from their annual property tax. The STEP exemption is available to more senior citizens in Salem than the current exemption, which is restricted by state law to a lower income level. For the 2021 financial year, STEP is available to senior citizens in Salem who have applied for and received the tax credit for circuit breakers for their taxes for 2019.
The income threshold under STEP is $ 61,000 for those who are not a householder and $ 76,000 for single householders and $ 92,000 for married couples, with the older exemption thresholds being $ 27,000 for single and $ 32,800 for married couples. STEP will significantly increase the number of senior citizens in Salem who can obtain an exemption from property tax: Last year, only 40 senior citizens in Salem applied for an exemption under the old exemption limits; However, under the STEP limits, hundreds of Salem seniors can have some of their property taxes waived.
In addition to extending the property tax exemption to many other senior citizens in Salem, STEP’s income thresholds are automatically adjusted every year based on the cost of living. STEP also removes the property restrictions imposed by the existing exception law in order to ensure that senior citizens who have a lot of houses but are limited in income are not wrongly excluded from the exception rule.
STEP applicants are also required to meet a ten-year city residency requirement, which has been put in place to ensure that the benefits of the greater exemption go to those who have spent the most of their time contributing to the city’s existing tax base and the success of Salem to invest.
“The Seniors Tax Exemption Program continues our commitment to make Salem an even more age-friendly community,” said Driscoll. “Salem is a place where residents of all ages can live comfortably and grow old. While we have managed, through responsible tax practices, to keep tax changes relatively modest over the past fifteen years, it is important that we recognize the disproportionate burden on income-restricted elderly residents. As the cost of living increases in Salem and across the Commonwealth, we have a responsibility to develop strategies to help our residents who need it most. “
“I was delighted to be working with Salem City officials, including Mayor Driscoll and Sen. Lovely, to propose laws that would allow qualified seniors to enjoy property tax relief,” said Tucker. “Thanks to Mayor Driscoll and the city council for implementing and Governor Baker for signing our laws.”
“I am delighted that Governor Baker signed the bill that Rep. Tucker and I tabled to improve the financial health of Salem seniors who own property in the city,” said Lovely. “I commend Mayor Driscoll and the city council’s efforts to improve Salem’s reputation as an age-friendly community, and I am confident that this bill will benefit Salem seniors, many of whom live on steady incomes.”
Applications for the STEP program for the fiscal year FY2021 are available from January 11 at http://salem.com/step or by calling the city inspector’s office at 978-619-5608. Applications must be received by April 1st to be considered for the current financial year.