As we all know, tax season has been in full swing for many weeks now, and it is almost over for some. But, did you know that even if you did not have to file a tax return, as a senior, it may be beneficial for you to do so? Did you know there is a tax credit only available to seniors in Massachusetts who pay rent or real estate taxes? There is, and it is called the Massachusetts Circuit Breaker Tax Credit. Even if you don’t owe any taxes at all, you may be eligible for this credit, and it is just like money in your pocket.
The Circuit Breaker Tax Credit is meant to help low to moderate income seniors whose real estate taxes or rent take up at least 10% of their income. Both you, and your spouse, if you are married, must be age 65 or older as of December 31, 2011, and if you are married, you must file a joint return in order to qualify for this credit. No one else can claim you as a dependent, and you must rent or own a home in Massachusetts as your principle residence. This means that if your principle residence is in Florida, you are not eligible for this credit. You are also not eligible if your rent is paid through a federal or state subsidy. Additionally, your property must have an assessed value as of January 1st, 2011 below $729,000.
The income limits to qualify for this credit are relatively high, which is a good thing because it means many seniors in Massachusetts can take advantage of it. If you are filing as a single adult, your income must be below $52,000; if you are filing as head of household, your income must be below $65,000; and if you are married filing jointly, your combined income must be below $78,000. Remember, though, that your rent or real estate taxes must be at least 10% of your income in order to qualify. So, if you are married filing jointly and your income is $75,000, your rent or real estate taxes must be at least $7,500. Also, be aware that income here includes social security, retirement, pensions, annuities, and other nontaxable sources.
If you have not yet filed your taxes, and you are interested in filing so that you can take advantage of this credit, there are many organizations that offer free tax assistance. The Circuit Breaker Tax Credit form is easy to fill out, and if it is the only reason you want to file a return, you should not over pay a tax professional. In Worcester, there are several VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites, and volunteers at these sites would be happy to prepare a return for you. You can also visit your local library to pick up the forms you need (Massachusetts Form 1 and Schedule CB), or visit this website to file your return electronically on your own. Finally, if you have not taken advantage of this credit before, you can file Massachusetts Form CA-6 (Application for Abatement/Amended Return) and Schedule CB to obtain the credit for the past three years.