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Mass. City Rewards Seniors Who Volunteer

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno acknowledges that the rising cost of living is tough for older residents, and says he'll support a property-tax break for those who volunteer for the city.(mass_osd/Flickr)
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno acknowledges that the rising cost of living is tough for older residents, and says he'll support a property-tax break for those who volunteer for the city.
(mass_osd/Flickr)
November 22, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The city council of Springfield, Massachusetts, passed a bill this week that offers a unique tax break – if senior citizens volunteer for the city, they can get up to $1,000 off their property taxes.

It's a popular program that has now been adopted by close to 20 commonwealth cities. Participants must be over age 60, and have an income within the limits of the Massachusetts Circuit-Breaker Tax Credit.

Springfield City Council member Orlando Ramos sponsored the bill, and hopes the program will make the city more affordable for older residents.

"Their income is not rising at the same rate as their property taxes,” says Ramos. “And so, we thought this was an opportunity to give back to seniors, and give them an opportunity to work off a portion of their tax bill, while also giving a benefit to the city."

The bill now sits on the desk of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who says he supports it. Beyond the Bay State, this kind of tax work-off is available in very few places around the country.

Springfield's older volunteers can earn a tax credit equal to the minimum wage in Massachusetts, which is $12 an hour. So, to get the full $1,000 credit, a senior would volunteer close to eighty-five hours.

Ramos says the program will start with just 20 residents.

"My hope is that we'll be able to expand that as we go down the road to include even more participants,” says Ramos.

Ramos says residents can apply to be in the pilot program this coming spring, and their volunteer hours would be tabulated beginning in July.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA