I. Introduction

For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2001, an owner or renter of a principal residence located in Massachusetts who is age 65 or older, at the close of the taxable year, may be eligible to claim a refundable credit against personal income taxes. Known as the "circuit breaker credit," this credit is based upon the actual real estate taxes or rent paid by a taxpayer eligible to claim the credit. See G.L. c. 62, § 6(k), added by sections 80 and 81 of chapter 127 of the Acts of 1999. To the extent that this TIR is inconsistent with TIR 01-19, this TIR modifies and supplements that ruling.

II. 2002 Income Threshold Amounts for Renters and Homeowners

A Massachusetts taxpayer age 65 or older who owns or rents his or her principal residence is eligible for the circuit breaker credit if he or she meet certain requirements. See TIR 01-19, Real Estate Tax Credit for Certain Persons Age 65 and Older.

Under G. L. c. 62, § 6(k)(4), for purposes of calculating the circuit breaker credit total income, assessed valuation and maximum credit thresholds are adjusted annually by multiplying the statutory base amounts of these thresholds by the cost-of-living adjustment for the calendar year in which the taxable year begins.

For tax year 2002, the taxpayer's "total income" can not exceed $42,000 for a single individual who is not the head of a household, $53,000 for a head of household, and $63,000 for a husband and wife filing a joint return. For subsequent tax years, the Department of Revenue ("Department") will adjust the "total income" thresholds to reflect inflation. See G. L. c. 62, § 6(k)(4).

III. 2002 Assessed Valuation Threshold Amount for Homeowners

For tax year 2002, the assessed valuation, before the residential exemptions but after abatements, of the homeowner's principal residence may not exceed $425,000. If the taxpayer owns more than one acre of land, only the assessed value of the principal residence, together with the land that immediately surrounds and is associated with that residence, not to exceed one acre, should be used in determining the eligibility of the taxpayer for the credit.

IV. Calculation of the Credit Available in 2002

A. Renters
The credit is equal to the amount by which 25% of the rent actually paid by the taxpayer during the taxable year for the occupancy of the principal residence exceeds 10% of the taxpayer's total income for the taxable year, provided that such amount does not exceed the maximum credit amount. For tax year 2002, the maximum credit amount is $790.

B. Homeowners
The credit is equal to the amount by which the taxpayer's property tax payments in the current tax year, including water and sewer use charges paid to a municipality, but excluding any abatement or exemption granted, exceeds 10% of the taxpayer's total income, for the taxable year, provided that such amount does not exceed the maximum credit amount. For tax year 2002, the maximum credit amount is $790.

/s/Alan LeBovidge
Alan LeBovidge
Commissioner of Revenue

AL:DMS:jet
144880

December 9, 2002

TIR 02-20