Thursday, June 21, 2018
Massachusetts lawmakers created a property tax deferral program for seniors 45 years ago, and according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, only about 1,000 seniors across the state participate. The program allows senior to defer payment of their property tax until they pass away, leaving the burden to their heirs or beneficiaries when they inherit the property. Municipalities are allowed to charge up to 8% interest on the deferred tax, but some town opt to not charge any interest at all.
Frances Arntz was 76 in 1989 when she first applied for the tax deferral program for her home, and continued to reapply annually until she was 95 and moved in with her daughter in 2008. Her son Barry then took over the property and began paying the current property taxes every year, but he was never informed about the $50,000 in taxes his mother had deferred. Frances passed away in 2018 and left the house to her son, "free and clear" of any mortgages and liens.
Imagine Barry Arntz's surprise when he found out the tax burden on the home had ballooned to $120,000, including the additional 10 years worth of interest from 2008 to 2018. Arntz claimed that his mother was confused by the term deferral, believing it meant the tax debt was absolved rather than postponed. He also claims that the town of Sharon intentionally did not tell him about the deferred property tax.
See Sean P. Murphy, An Inheritance Damaged by Delayed Property Taxes, Boston Globe, June 18, 2018.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.