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Circuit Breaker Tax Credit

Feb 1, 2019

If you are a senior homeowner or renter, you may be eligible for the 2018 Massachusetts “circuit breaker” tax credit.  The program is for those aged 65 or older, whose property taxes (or 25% of rent) exceed 10% of their annual income.

The following are the eligibility requirements to qualify for the tax credit:

  • You must be a Massachusetts resident or part-year resident.
  • You must be 65 or older by December 31.
  • You must file a Massachusetts personal income tax return.
  • You must own or rent residential property in Massachusetts and occupy it as your primary residence.
  • For tax year 2018, your total Massachusetts income doesn’t exceed:

   $58,000 for a single individual who is not the head of a household.

   $73,000 for a head of household.

   $88,000 for married couples filing a joint return.

  • If you are a homeowner, your Massachusetts property tax payments, together with half of your water and sewer expense, must exceed 10% of your total Massachusetts income for the tax year.
  • If you are a renter, 25% of your annual Massachusetts rent must exceed 10% of your total Massachusetts income for the tax year.

For tax year 2018, the maximum credit allowed for both renters and homeowners is $1,100.  If a person would not ordinarily be required to file a return, they must file to get the circuit breaker credit. People who have not filed for the credit in previous years should speak to their tax advisor about filing now.


Other factors may impact eligibility.  For more information about the Real Estate Tax Credit (Circuit Breaker) in the Commonwealth, visit www.mass.gov/service-details/senior-circuit-breaker-tax-credit.

Some municipalities offer other tax breaks for seniors, such as work off programs, exemptions, surviving spouse exemptions, or deferrals.  Since each town is different, elders should ask at their respective town halls, or local senior centers.

According to the Massachusetts Councils on Aging, thousands of Massachusetts seniors have claimed millions of dollars from this credit over the past several years. Eligible seniors can go back three years to try to get the credit, which, for some, could result in more than $4,000 in tax savings!

The Department of Revenue offers information sessions about the Circuit Breakfast Tax Credit each winter.  This year, there will be a session at the Rose Baker Senior Center on Thursday, February 21, at 10:00am.  There will also be a session at the Ipswich Council on Aging on Wednesday, February 20, at 10:30am.  For a list of other locations and dates, go to www.mass.gov/service-details/senior-circuit-breaker-credit-information-sessions.

“Tax Tips for Seniors and Retirees” explains the Circuit Breaker more fully and is available at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website (www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-revenue), or people may call 800-392-6089 for assistance.

In 2019, from February through April, volunteers from SeniorCare RSVP will partner with AARP to assist taxpayers 60 & older with middle to low income with their tax preparation and filing, providing free tax assistance at over 30 locations throughout the North Shore. Space is very limited for this program.  For a list of locations offering tax assistance, go to www.seniorcareinc.org/event/free-tax-preparation or contact SeniorCare’s RSVP Department at 978-281-1750.