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.

Table of Contents

Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit

As a senior citizen, you may be eligible to claim a refundable credit on your personal state income tax return. The 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 2018 is $1,100. 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.

Visit: TIR 18-10: Annual Update of Real Estate Tax Credit for Certain Persons Age 65 and Older

Another great resource is the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Video Tutorial.

Tax Tips for Seniors and Retirees

In our continuing effort to make filing and paying taxes as easy as possible, the Department of Revenue's annual “Tax Tips” 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.

Visit Tax Tips for Seniors and Retirees.

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

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. 

Learn more with Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Deduction.

Coming soon — Tax year 2018 information

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).

Coming soon — Tax year 2018 information

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.

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 and Schedule A.

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

  • A copy of U.S. Schedule A

Coming soon — Tax year 2018 information

Other Resources

  • Seniors
    The Commonwealth offers a number of services to help seniors stay healthy, independent, and engaged in their communities.  Learn more
  • 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.  Learn more.

  • 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.  Learn more.

  • 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.  Learn more.

  • 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.  Learn more.

  • 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.  Learn more.

  • AARP Foundation
    The AARP Foundation serves vulnerable people 50 and older by creating and advancing effective solutions that help them secure the essentials.  Learn more.

Questions

By phone:

  • 617-887-6367 (Personal Income)
    • 800-392-6089 (toll-free in Massachusetts)

Email

You may also visit DOR Contact Us for all the other ways to reach the Department of Revenue.

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