Higher Taxes:Council Votes to Increase the Maximum Residential Tax Exemption in Boston

By John Lynds

When real estate values are on the rise in neighborhoods like East Boston, the next step is usually higher value assessments by the city and an increase in property tax.

However, Mayor Martin Walsh submitted a plan that was approved by the City Council last week that will give some tax relief to thousands of homeowners.

Walsh’s proposal that was adopted by the Council last Wednesday will increase Boston’s residential property tax exemption for the first time since 2000.

The proposal would reduce average property tax bills for single family, owner-occupied residences by $299. If adopted, the proposal would increase the residential tax exemption for taxpayers who occupy their homes as their principal residences to 35 percent in an effort to provide substantial tax relief to homeowners here.

Walsh said the average property tax bill for these taxpayers would decrease from $3,533 to $3,234.

“The City of Boston has been rapidly growing and expanding over the past few years and it’s paying off,” said Walsh. “Whether they’ve lived here for decades or just moved in, our residents are the foundation to this vibrant and thriving city. We’re happy to let Boston homeowners keep a little more money in their pockets come tax season with this increase in the residential exemption.”

The passage of the proposal by the City Council means that the residential tax exemption will exceed $2,000 for the first time, representing an increase of $472 over last year’s amount. Each qualifying homeowner will save $2,435 on their property tax bill by qualifying for the exemption.

“I applaud the mayor and my colleague, City Councilor Mark Ciommo for providing crucial tax relief for hundreds of homeowners in my District and beyond,” said LaMattina. “For many homeowners Christmas came a little early this year and that extra money that will be put back in the pockets of residents in Boston could translate into more home improvements, more spending in Boston’s business districts, and more spending in local small businesses. All this will help strengthen the city’s economy and improve the housing stock throughout the city.”

Ciommo, District 9 City Councilor and Chair of the Boston City Council Committee on Ways and Means, added, “It gives me great satisfaction to have worked with the Mayor and his administration, the Governor, and my City Council colleagues to deliver significant tax relief to our resident-owner households.”

LaMattina and Ciommo said the residential exemption is an important tool that provides support to the middle class in the City. Increasing the residential exemption will keep Boston’s taxes competitive with other communities, as the average residential tax bill in Boston will fall 38 percent below last year’s statewide average of $5,247.

A historically strong business and real estate climate in Boston has resulted in record new tax revenue growth, producing $75.5 million in growth to the tax base due to new construction and properties being added to the tax base, the highest amount ever produced by the City in new growth.

Homeowners are expected to see the proposed rates reflected in their third quarter tax bills that will be sent out at the end of the year. Fiscal Year 2017 assessments are based on values as of January 1, 2016.

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