|Sen. Hart Announces the Massachusetts MERIT Plan
Senator Jack Hart a member of the Veterans Committee today announced the launch of the “Massachusetts MERIT (Military Enhanced Relief Individual Tax) Plan. This bill, named after the late Representative Edward G. Connolly, a long-term supporter of veterans, establishes several different tax relief measures for veterans and those currently serving. Senator Hart noted “I’m pleased to honor both Representative Connolly and our service men and women by the implementation of these measures. War has taught us that freedom is not free, and no one has sacrificed more to ensure our freedom than our service members and their families. The Massachusetts Merit Plan is a tangible way to thank the many who have given so much.”
Spearheaded by the newly formed Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs, the bill contains a number of provisions that benefit Massachusetts veterans, service members and their families.
1) Increases Veteran Property Tax Abatements
- The abatements will be increased in several categories, ranging from $250 to $400 through $950 to $1500.
2) Increase Gold Star Spouse Property Tax Abatements to $2,500.
This provision amends state law to grant a $2,500 property tax exemption for eligible surviving spouses of veterans killed in combat or missing in action or who otherwise died as result of a combat injury or terrorist act.
3) Increases the Real Estate Tax Exemption For Disabled Veterans
This provision amends existing law to increase the abatement amount from $600 to a $1,000 exemption. In addition, the exemption will be available to the surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans who qualified for this abatement while living. This clause is also amended to remove the current requirement of an annual statement to the assessor concerning the disability rating, in favor of a requirement that a statement is only required by the person receiving the exemption if the Veterans’ Administration reduces the disability ratio to below 100%.
4) Establishes a 5-Year 100% Property Tax Exemption For War Widows and Widowers
This new provision provides a 100% property tax exemption for eligible surviving spouses of veterans and National Guard members killed or missing in action or who otherwise died as a direct result of a combat injury for the first five years after the servicemember’s death.
5) Allows Cities and Towns to Suspend Property Tax Payments of National Guard members and Reservists on Active Duty
This provision adds a new section to Ch. 59 to allow a municipality, at local option, to suspend the payment of real property taxes due by a member of the National Guard, or Reserves, or their dependants while the member is on active duty. Once the member is placed on inactive duty status, all penalties, charges and interest shall be waived so long as the taxes due are paid within 6 months.
6) Extends Sales and Vehicle Excise Tax Exemptions to Disabled Veterans
This provision amends the Sales Tax (and the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax exemptions currently available to those veterans meeting specified disability criteria (loss, or loss of use, of one or more hands, feet or eyes). It extends the exemption to all veterans who qualify for a DV plate, having been determined disabled by the RMV’s Medical Advisory Board.