Massachusetts Tax Information for Seniors and Retirees

Learn about the variety of income tax benefits and other resources that are available for Massachusetts senior citizens and retirees.

Updated: December 29, 2023

Table of Contents

Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit

If you are age 65 or older, you may be eligible to claim a refundable credit on your personal state income tax return. The Senior Circuit Breaker tax credit is based on the actual real estate taxes paid on the Massachusetts residential property you own or rent and occupy as your principal residence.

The maximum credit amount for tax year 2023 is $2,590. If the credit you're owed exceeds the amount of the total tax payable for the year, you'll be refunded the additional amount of the credit without interest.

Learn more with Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit.

Also, go to: 

Tax Tips for Seniors and Retirees

In our continuing effort to make filing and paying taxes as easy as possible, DOR's annual Tax Tips for Seniors and Retirees is a great resource to assist you in completing your tax return and ensure that you take advantage of deductions and exemptions that are available.

You may wish to consult with a tax professional for guidance on some of these items.

Age 65 or Over Exemption

You're allowed a $700 exemption if you're age 65 or older before the end of the year. If filing a joint return, each spouse may be entitled to 1 exemption if each is age 65 or over on December 31 (not January 1 as per federal rule) of the tax year.

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Fill in the appropriate oval(s) and enter the total number of people who are age 65 or over in the box.
  2. Multiply the total by $700 and enter the result on either Form 1 (Line 2c) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4c).

Blindness, Medical, and Dental Exemptions

Blindness Exemption

You're allowed a $2,200 exemption if you or your spouse is legally blind at the end of the taxable year.

You're legally blind for Massachusetts purposes if your visual acuity with correction is 20/200 or less in the better eye, or if your peripheral field of vision has been reduced to a 10-degree radius or less.

You're not legally required to attach a doctor's statement verifying legal blindness to your return, but you should be prepared to submit such a statement upon request.

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Fill in the appropriate oval(s) on either Form 1 (Line 2d) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4d).
  2. Enter the total number of blindness exemptions in the small box.
  3. Multiply the number of exemptions by $2,200 and enter the result on either Form 1 (Line 2d) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4d).

Medical and Dental Exemptions

You're allowed an exemption for medical, dental and other expenses paid during the taxable year. You must itemize deductions on your Form 1040 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns or Form 1040-SR - U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. 

If you itemize on U.S. Schedule A (Line 4) and have medical/dental expenses greater than 10% of federal AGI, you may claim a medical and dental exemption in Massachusetts equal to the amount you reported on U.S. Schedule A, line 4. If either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950, it has to be greater than 7.5% of federal AGI.

Married taxpayers:

  • Married filing joint for federal - File joint in Massachusetts to claim this exemption. Generally, you may include medical expenses paid for yourself, spouses, and dependents claimed on your return.
  • Married filing separate for federal - File married filing joint for Massachusetts. If you file separate federal returns but a joint Massachusetts return, complete a pro-forma joint U.S. Schedule A to calculate the proper Massachusetts medical expense exemption. To be allowed the exemption, total itemized deductions must be greater than the standard deduction.
  • Married filing separate for both federal and Massachusetts - Each spouse may file their own Schedule A.

Massachusetts does not adopt the federal health insurance credit.

You can also include, in medical expenses, part of monthly or lump-sum life-care fees or "founder's fees" you paid to a retirement home under the agreement.

The part of the payment you can include is the cost of medical care. The agreement must have you pay a specific fee as a condition for the home's promise to provide lifetime care that includes medical care. However, you can't deduct the part of the founder's fee used to construct the health facilities.

If the person living in the retirement home chooses to terminate residence, you can include, in gross income, any refund of the founder's fee related to previously allowed deductions.

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Enter the amount reported on U.S. Schedule A (Line 4) on either Form 1 (Line 2e) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4e). Add this amount to the adoption exemption, if any.
  2. Enter the totals of adoption and medical on either Form 1 (Line 2g), or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4g).
  3. Itemize deductions on U.S. Form 1040, U.S. Form 1040-SR and Schedule A.

If you're submitting an abatement/amended tax return, attach:

  • A copy of U.S. Schedule A

Pension and Retirement Income

Income from most private pensions or annuity plans is taxable in Massachusetts but many government pensions are exempt.  Withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxable but the Massachusetts taxable amount may be different from the federal taxable amount.

Learn more about the rules for the types of pension or retirement income plans which you receive:

Social Security Income

Massachusetts gross income doesn’t include Social Security benefits. Under I.R.C. § 86, these benefits may be included in federal gross income depending on income thresholds. 

If you earn wages or are self-employed, learn more about the Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Deduction.

Other Resources

  • Seniors
    The Commonwealth offers a number of services to help seniors stay healthy, independent, and engaged in their communities.   
  • Executive Office of Elder Affairs
    Promotes independence, empowerment, and well-being of older people, individuals with disabilities, and their families. We ensure access to the resources you need to live healthy in every community in the Commonwealth.  

  • Council on Aging & Senior Centers
    Councils on Aging & Senior Centers provide support services to elders, families and caregivers in the community. As a local agency, the Councils on Aging & Senior Centers serve as an elder advocate, offers services, and activities for elders.  

  • In-Home Services
    The Home Care Program provides care management and in-home support services to help eligible elders in Massachusetts successfully age in place. Eligibility for the Home Care Program is based on age, residence, income, and ability to carry out daily tasks such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation.  

  • Report Elder Abuse
    Elder abuse includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, caretaker neglect, financial exploitation, and self -neglect. Elder Abuse Reports can be filed 24 hours a day.  

  • Age Strong Commission
    Our mission is to enhance your life with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong in Boston together.  

  • AARP Foundation and Tax-Aide Program
    The AARP Foundation serves vulnerable people 50 and older by creating and advancing effective solutions that help them secure the essentials.  

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