SENIORS SURVIVING SPOUSES
MINOR CHILDREN (OF DECEASED PARENT)
Clauses 17, 17C, 17C½, 17D
The Department of Revenue (DOR) has created this fact sheet to provide general information about local property tax exemptions for seniors, surviving spouses and minor children of a deceased parent. It is not designed to address all questions or issues and does not change any provision of the Massachusetts General Laws. To find out about the specific eligibility and application requirements in your city or town, you must contact your local board of assessors. The DOR cannot determine your eligibility or give you legal advice. Property taxes are assessed and collected by cities and towns, not by the DOR. Under state law, only your board of assessors, as the local tax administrator, can decide whether you qualify for an exemption. If you disagree with its decision, you may appeal to the state Appellate Tax Board (or county commissioners if your county’s government has not been abolished).
Cities and towns may give property tax exemptions to some individuals as defined by state law. An exemption discharges the taxpayer from the legal obligation to pay all or a portion of the tax assessed for the fiscal year. Exemptions are found in various clauses of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, Section 5 (M.G.L. c. 59, § 5).
Clauses 17, 17C, 17C½ or 17D provide partial exemptions to (1) seniors, (2) surviving spouses, and (3) minor children with a deceased parent, who meet specific ownership, occupancy and asset requirements. Seniors 70 or older may, alternatively, qualify for an exemption under Clauses 41, 41B, 41C or 41C½, which provide a higher benefit, but have stricter eligibility requirements. Clause 17 is the basic exemption for the three categories of taxpayers. Over the years, as asset values rose, the Legislature enacted alternative exemptions (Clauses 17C, 17C½ and 17D), and options within those exemptions, that cities and towns may adopt.
Clause 17 applies unless the legislative body of your city or town has voted, subject to local charter, to accept another clause. The most recently accepted clause establishes the eligibility rules in your city or town.