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Councilors Edwards, Flynn File Legislation to Help Bostonians Repay Back Taxes

Councilors Edwards, Flynn File Legislation to Help Bostonians Repay Back Taxes

Proposal is a Win-Win for Property Owners and City Budget

(Boston--July 11) Today, Councilors Lydia Edwards and Ed Flynn filed legislation to help residents and commercial property owners who are struggling with paying back taxes. The B.A.C.K Tax Act would give tax delinquent property owners a longer period to get back on track with payments and forgive a portion of interest on taxation.

Many residents, particularly seniors and low-income homeowners who are “house rich, cash poor” face a big hurdle when they fall behind on property taxes. Commercial property owners, in turn, can also fall behind on taxes during economic downturns. Currently, property owners who cannot repay back taxes within one year are at risk of foreclosure.

The Boston Advancing Certainty and Knowledge in Taxation Act (B.A.C.K. Tax Act) would allow residential taxpayers up to three years to repay tax arrears, and for residents with a demonstrated hardship, allow up to five years and 50% interest forgiveness. Commercial taxpayers that qualify would have up to two years to repay tax arrears and forgiveness of up to 50% interest. In exchange for tax relief, commercial tax payers would agree to remediate and improve environmentally contaminated sites, rent 50% of the residential units below market rate for a term not less than ten years, or rent commercial space below market for at least five years.

State law allows municipalities to extend repayment of property taxes from one year to as long as five years and to forgive up to half the interest on back taxes. Communities including Framingham, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Springfield have adopted similar legislation but Boston has never opted into this program. Municipal officials from these communities describe the policy as a “win win” because the cities can collect money they would otherwise have never collected while the residents are given enough time to get back on track with payments.

“The B.A.C.K. Tax Act will support low-income homeowners and seniors who have aged with tax debt by giving them a reasonable chance to pay off their debt,” said Councilor Edwards. “We can be more compassionate toward Bostonians while ensuring the city budget is secure.”

"Giving residents, our seniors, the disabled and businesses a second chance on back taxes benefits everyone by keeping Bostonians in place and ensuring the city collects enough revenue to fund essential programs," said Councilor Ed Flynn. "We can do more to give taxpayers tools to succeed."

updated: 2 years ago