Wednesday, February 24, 2006
Tim Connolly
(617) 626-2369

Governor Mitt Romney today joined Revenue Commissioner Alan LeBovidge to call attention to an overlooked tax deduction that allows income-eligible filers to subtract up to $800 of home heating fuel expenses from their taxable income. Fewer than 40 percent of those qualifying for the new home heating deduction have claimed it so far this filing season.

"High energy prices have put a strain on older homeowners and young families alike," said Romney. "This deduction was designed to help people make it through the home heating season, and I'd like to see 100 percent of those who are eligible receive this tax break."

The deduction was created by energy legislation signed into law by the Governor last fall. The fact that less than 40 percent of qualifying filers are claiming the tax break means that about 200,000 taxpayers have left unclaimed $5 million in potential refunds. If this trend continues, taxpayers will forfeit up to $35 million in refunds.

To help spread the word of this benefit and encourage more filers to apply, Romney visited the Brookline home of Lillian Christmas, 74, who was unaware that she was eligible for the deduction when she filed her return. She now plans on filing an amended return.

"It just seems like the cost of heating this house keeps going up and up," said Christmas, a retired Polaroid secretary. "I'm glad to have the help and I plan to tell my friends and neighbors about the deduction too."

Taxpayers may claim a home heating fuel deduction of up to $800 per year. Deductions may be used only for the cost of home heating oil, natural gas and propane purchased between November 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. There is a bill pending in the Legislature that would extend the deduction to individuals who use wood and/or electricity for home heating purposes.

A taxpayer who qualifies for the deduction may apply the deduction in taxable year 2005 for purchases made between November 1, 2005 and December 31, 2005. Renters within the income limits may deduct 20 percent of their rent for the months of November and December in tax year 2005. If the taxpayer does not take the full $800 deduction in taxable year 2005, the taxpayer may take the remainder in taxable year 2006 for purchases made in 2006 up to March 31.

A single person may claim the deduction if their annual adjusted gross income is $50,000 or less. For married joint filers or heads of household, the income limit is $75,000. If a married individual files separately, no deduction is allowed.

"Because the Heating Energy Assistance Act was passed late in the legislative session, we suspect that some taxpayers may not be aware of the deduction," LeBovidge said. "It's clear to us that not everyone who is eligible is taking advantage of this benefit."