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Tax deferral program does exist; District 1 candidates spar over program.

Byline: Lee Hammel

WORCESTER - District 1 City Councilor Joffrey A. Smith is correct.

The city has a tax deferral program for taxpayers over 65 years old. That came into question at the District 1 council candidates forum Thursday at Zion Lutheran Church.

Candidate Virginia W. Ryan said she supports the city having both a tax deferral program and a program to allow seniors to work off their taxes. She asked why the city has neither.

Mr. Smith said the city already has a tax deferral program and that no Massachusetts community has both programs. Candidate Tony J. Economou said having both could lead to higher fees and fewer services for everyone.

While the city has a tax deferral program, only seven taxpayers take advantage of it, according to City Assessor William J. Ford.

The program allows taxpayers over 65 with annual incomes of less than $40,000 to defer payment on some or all of their property taxes. The amount deferred plus 8 percent interest per year must be repaid when the property is sold or transferred or upon the death of the property owner.

Ms. Ryan said the town of Sudbury ties the interest rate to the Treasury bill rate, now less than 1 percent. She acknowledged yesterday that she had been mistaken about whether the deferral program exists in Worcester.

Worcester also has a tax exemption of $1,400 for taxpayers 70 or older. The City Council has increased the maximum gross incomes that qualify for the exemption to $17,000 for single taxpayers and $19,000 if married. Social Security or railroad retirement of up to $4,158 is not counted toward gross income for single taxpayers and $6,237 is not counted for married taxpayers.

Total assets, not including the house, can not exceed $28,000 for single taxpayers and $30,000 for married taxpayers.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 10, 2011
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