A proposed tax-deferment plan for Barrington seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, was presented to the Town Council Monday night, Dec. 17.
The proposal was sent to Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. and other town officials to come back with a more detailed plan and a determination of its impact.
“Barrington’s comprehensive plan is replete with references to wanting to keep seniors in their homes,” said Margaret Kane, chair of the Senior Services Advisory Board, who presented the proposal. “It’s a small step, a beginning.”
The program as drafted would defer the tax increase after a person turns 65, not the entire tax. It would defer the property tax, Kane said, to “either the death of a resident or the sale of the property.”
The tax deferment also would go only to seniors whose total household income was below 80 percent of Barrington’s median household income. Right now, Barrington’s median income is $94,300, making seniors with incomes less than $75,440 eligible for the deferment.
Taxes deferred would earn interest for the town, Kane said. Residents would have to present a sworn affidavit of their incomes when they elect to enter the tax-deferment program.
Kane said at least one other East Bay town has a similar program.
“Bristol’s is a program we can model,” she said. “They have experience with the program we can draw on.”
Seniors already receive two other tax benefits: the senior tax exemption and the so-called “circuit-breaker.”
The former gives a flat exemption of $18,400 on income if you are 65 or older. The latter gives a tax credit of $525 to $1,500 depending on a Barrington senior’s income.
Town Council Vice President Kate Weymouth asked if the tax deferment would replace one of these programs or provide a third tax break.
“For me, I think it should be replacing one of the others,” she said, although she favors tax breaks for seniors on fixed incomes to help them stay in their homes.
Town Councilor Ann Strong asked why the tax deferment would go to residents 65 or older.
“Why not 55 or 70?” she said.
“I think we can discuss it,” said Kane.
DeAngelis said he would report back to the Town Council in March with a report that includes the impact on the town of a tax deferment.