Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, June 21, 2018

An Inheritance Damaged by Delayed Property Taxes [Massachusetts]

SharonMassachusetts 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.


Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink


Mr.Beyer is absolutely right, the senior tax deferral program is great -- if you know about it. Only 1,000 seniors signed up to participate because the program is largely not promoted, apparently. No one I know of that age in that state knows about it. I never heard of it. It's a nice program, no doubt about it. But what about a real property tax relief program... not deferred, but actual lower yearly property taxes, like all middle class people enjoy at any age in California. With Proposition 13, and Proposition 58.

You know, with the Coronavirus disaster having us all on the run, in every state – unraveling our economy, as we flounder, with a non existent federal response backed up by GOP misinformation, which is costing us tens of thousands of deaths, and tens of millions of jobs. With unemployment pushing past 42.1 million nationwide... and I hate to mention it but with bread lines growing all across America… Bread lines! Cause folks can't buy food! Remind anyone of something called the Great Depression? And yet California is still the only state that provides regular residential and commercial property owners a real break in property taxes, still capped at a maximum rate of 2%...

And this is exactly what every state in America needs right now, with unemployment unraveling our entire economy. IN the red states, thanks to fools governors and other politicians, millions of people can't even pay for health coverage, never mind food! Lowering property taxes way down would loosen up some cash to buy food, to pay for ACA health coverage insurance. Unless you know who is allowed to kill ACA and Medicare and Medicaid, which is unthinkable in a Pandemic -- and yet he and his cronies actually are trying to do the unthinkable. Anyway, Prop 13 and Prop 58 type property tax relief would help folks in every state avoid property tax reassessment at current rates every year... remaining at 2% or lower. Like Californians, all the rest of us in every state would get to keep parents property taxes, and transfer parents property taxes, inheriting property taxes at a low base rate... Especially in times like this - shouldn't we all have property tax relief like this, in every state? Having the ability to use Proposition 58 types of property tax transfer benefits and tax breaks, with parent to child transfer or as law firms refer to it - parent to child exclusion. Do some research and push your Beltway representatives in Congress to put together some bills like California has passed to help home owners and commercial property owners! This is covered on sites like https://cloanc.com/category/prop-58 Trust loans with Proposition 58 or Prop 193 make it possible to own a low tax base forever upon a beneficiary buyout of sibling property shares, or as realtors call it, “the transfer of property between siblings”, and “lending money to an irrevocable trust“ – typically from an irrevocable trust loan lender. Look at the CA State Board of Equalization to find out how all this works, at https://www.boe.ca.gov/ or research niche info blogs like https://propertytaxtransfertrusts.com Plus other sites focused on property tax breaks for Californians. Living in that state is a benefit, although expensive... but hey, New York, Texas, NJ, CT, MASS are all expensive states to reside in... Plus, with zero property tax relief or tax relief of any kind.

Read up and start emailing and calling your Congress people. That's how it all begins. That's how Howard Jarvis got it all started in California with his Taxpayers Association, back in 1977-78. Yes he was a major residential building owner, with thousands of tenants... but so what. If he and his friends could do it -- so can we. It just might take us longer. But you need to start somewhere. And they had no Pandemic to point to. We do. And we need to lower property taxes ASAP.

Posted by: Geoffrey Sadler | Aug 1, 2020 3:09:59 PM

Post a comment