Massachusetts deferred property tax program


Few Massachusetts residents participate in the deferred property tax program which assists seniors with limited incomes who want to remain in their home which allows them to defer property taxes until they die and the house is sold. Interest is charged on the amount deferred with municipalities setting the rate, capped at 8 percent. Follow our link to the Boston Globe article which details unintended consequences of deferred property tax for one Sharon family.

An inheritance damaged by delayed taxes

By Sean P. Murphy | Boston Globe Article

Barry Arntz thought he and his sister owned the house passed down to them by their deceased mother “free and clear” — no mortgages, no liens, no encumbrances of any sort.

So it came as a great shock to Arntz to learn that his mother, without telling anyone in the family, had deferred $50,000 in property taxes on her house in Sharon, from 1989 to 2008, when he took over management of the house and began paying the taxes.

By the time his mother, Frances, died last year at age 104, interest on the deferred taxes had ballooned the total owed to about $120,000 — nearly a third of what the house was worth.

Arntz, a recently retired accountant, protested that by 2008 the town knew he had become responsible for the property. But the town made little effort to make him aware of the substantial debt on the property.

That means Arntz missed the chance to avoid 10 years of interest, most of it charged at 8 percent, ultimately adding up to $70,000.

“Why couldn’t they tell me?” Arntz asked. “All these years and there’s a runaway train and nobody says anything? They knew I was paying the taxes. They knew how to reach me.”

After Frances Arntz moved out of her home and in with her daughter in 2008, Barry Arntz rented out the house. He called Town Hall and told them to send tax bills to him at his home in Maynard.

Town officials insist they followed the letter of the law. And I think they did. The fault is in what the town didn’t do. [read entire article]

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