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Release Date: February 13, 2008

I am planning to hold a meeting with department heads and senior citizens to discuss the proposed work for taxes initiative.  The meeting will be held this Friday, February 15  at 10 AM at the LeeJacksonRoom, Town Hall. About 125 communities around the nation (including Boston, Boulder)provide senior citizens with the option of working off their property taxes. Seniors receive a tax credit (state income tax free) and are given stipends (in most communities less than $8 an hour) for community service.
NY State has not authorized tax credits for seniors. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss lobbying efforts to persuade the NY State Legislature to approve this option for seniors. Until the state law is approved the town may want to provide a limited number of  seniors with various part time jobs –model the program on the successful work for taxes initiative that exists around the nation.
IN ADDITION—THE Hastings on Hudson Senior Council is recommending that the town review a program that exists in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Seniors, on fixed incomes, are able to defer paying property taxes until they sell their home or pass away. This is another program that might help senior citizens continue to reside in their home. A copy of the Massachusetts law authorizing Sudbury to implement this initiative follows. The NY State Legislature would have to approve a similar authorization.
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding clause Forty-first A of Section 5 of chapter 59 of the General Laws, or any other general or special law to the contrary, and subject to Sections 2 to 5, inclusive, of this act, the board of assessors of the town of Sudbury shall defer the real estate property tax payment for property of a person 60 years of age or older and occupied by him as his domicile, or a person who owns the same jointly with his spouse, either of whom is 60 years or older and occupied as their domicile, or of a person who owns the same jointly or is a tenant in common with a person not his spouse and occupied by him as his domicile, if the person claiming the exemption either alone or together with his spouse had combined income of $60,000 or less during the preceding year. No restrictions shall be imposed based upon the number of years the property owner (a) has been domiciled in the commonwealth; or (b) owns and occupies as his domicile such real property.
SECTION 2. Any such person may, on or before December 15 of each year to which the tax relates or within 3 months after the date on which the bill or notice is first sent, whichever is later, apply to the board of assessors for an exemption of all or part of such real property from taxation during such year; provided, however, that in the case of real estate owned by a person jointly or as a tenant in common with a person not his spouse, the exemption shall not exceed that proportion of total valuation which the amount of his interest in such property bears to the whole tax due. The board of assessors shall grant such exemption provided that the owner or owners of such real property have entered into a tax deferral and recovery agreement with the board of assessors on behalf of the city or town. The said agreement shall provide:-
(1) that no sale or transfer of such real property may be consummated unless the taxes which would otherwise have been assessed on such portion of the real property as is so exempt have been paid, with interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum for the first year and at an annual rate set thereafter by the board of selectmen provided that the rate set by the selectmen shall never exceed 8 per cent per annum;
(2) that the total amount of such taxes due, plus interest, for the current and prior years does not exceed 50 per cent of the owner's proportional share of the full and fair cash value of such real property;
(3) that upon the demise of the owner of such real property, the heirs-at-law, assignees or devisees shall have first priority to the real property by paying in full the total taxes which would otherwise have been due, plus interest; provided, however, that if such heir-at-law, assignee or devisee is a surviving spouse who enters into a tax deferral and recovery agreement under this clause, payment of the taxes and interest due shall not be required during the life of such surviving spouse. Any additional taxes deferred, plus interest, on said real property under a tax deferral and recovery agreement signed by a surviving spouse shall be added to the taxes and interest which would otherwise have been due, and the payment of which has been postponed during the life of such surviving spouse, in determining the 50 per cent requirement of subparagraph (2);
(4) that if the taxes due, plus interest, are not paid by the heir-at-law, assignee or devisee or if payment is not postponed during the life of a surviving spouse, such taxes and interest shall be recovered from the estate of the owner; and
(5) that any joint owner or mortgagee holding a mortgage on such property has given written prior approval for such agreement, which written approval shall be made a part of such agreement.
SECTION 3. In the case of each tax deferral and recovery agreement entered into between the board of assessors and the owner or owners of such real property, the board of assessors shall forthwith cause to be recorded in the registry of deeds of the county or district in which the city or town is situated a statement of their action which shall constitute a lien upon the land covered by such agreement for such taxes as have been assessed under this act, plus interest as hereinafter provided. A lien filed pursuant to this act shall be subsequent to any liens securing a reverse mortgage, excepting shared appreciation instruments. The statement shall name the owner or owners and shall include a description of the land adequate for identification. Unless such a statement is recorded the lien shall not be effective with respect to a bona fide purchaser or other transferee without actual knowledge of such lien. The filing fee for such statement shall be paid by the city or town and shall be added to and become a part of the taxes due.
SECTION 4. In addition to the remedies provided by this act, the recorded statement of the assessors provided for in this act shall have the same force and effect as a valid taking for nonpayment of taxes under section 53 of chapter 60 of the General Laws, except that: (1) interest shall accrue at the rate provided in this act until the conveyance of the property or the death of the person whose taxes have been deferred, after which time interest shall accrue at the rate provided in section 62 of said chapter 60; (2) no assignment of the municipality's interest under this act may be made pursuant to section 52 of said chapter 60; (3) no petition under section 65 of said chapter 60 to foreclose the lien may be filed before the expiration of 6 months from the conveyance of the property or the death of the person whose taxes have been deferred.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved September 12, 2002.

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