A state statute, G.L. 261 § 27A-G, provides that if you cannot pay for court fees and costs, you may be able to have the state pay for them.
You are eligible if:
A. You receive public assistance under one of the following programs:
- Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families With Dependent Children;
- Massachusetts Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled & Children;
- Federal Supplemental Security Income;
- Massachusetts MassHealth (formerly Medicaid) or
- Massachusetts Veterans Benefits;
B. Your income, after taxes, does not exceed 125% of the current Federal Poverty Line.
C. You cannot pay the court fees or costs without depriving yourself or those who are dependent on you of the necessities of life, including food, shelter and clothing.
How do I apply?
- Complete the Affidavit of Indigency form.
- If you claim eligibility under Category (C), you must also complete the Supplement to the Affidavit of Indigency form.
- If you are currently confined in prison or jail and do not seek your immediate release but are suing a "state or county agency, official or employee" about something arising out of or resulting from a condition of or occurrence during confinement, and you are seeking court payment of normal costs, complete the Inmate's Affidavit of Indigency form.
- File the Affidavit of Indigency (and Supplement to the Affidavit of Indigency) with the clerk at the court.
What is covered?
The court divides the fees and costs related to each case into two categories: normal fees and extra fees. Attorneys' fees are not eligible for waiver, substitution, or payment by the Commonwealth.
Normal fees and costs include:
- Court filing fees and surcharges, and also appeal fees and surcharges
- Other court fees for issuing or certifying papers or for photocopies
- Constable or sheriff fees for serving court process, witness subpoenas, or other court papers
- Costs of publishing notices relating to a court action
If you have costs and fees that are not considered normal costs and fees, they are "extra fees and costs."
Examples of extra fees and costs are:
- expert testing, examination or testimony,
- cassette copies if you not have a public defender, and
- Appeal bonds.
The following website might offer additional helpful information about the affidavit of indigency. The Massachusetts Court System assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or veracity of the information that a user may encounter at this site.
The following are forms and related documents used to request waiver, substitution or payment of court fees and court costs by the Commonwealth pursuant to G. L. c. 261, § 27B.
- Poverty Threshold Guidelines
- Affidavit of Indigency file size 1MB
- Supplement to the Affidavit of Indigency file size 1MB
- Instructions for Users
- Inmate's Affidavit of Indigency
- Indigency (waiver of fees)