View Massachusetts personal income tax exemptions

You might qualify for Massachusetts personal income tax exemptions. Learn about them here.

Personal income tax exemptions directly reduce how much tax you owe.

To find out how much your exemptions are as a part-year resident or nonresident of Massachusetts, and to fill out Line 22a of Form 1-NR/PY:

Nonresidents

Multiply your Total Exemptions (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 4f) by the Nonresident Deduction and Exemption Ratio (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 14g), to get your Exemption Amount (Line 22a). The ratio is your Massachusetts gross income (from sources in Massachusetts), divided by Massachusetts gross income from all sources (as if you were a full year Massachusetts resident).

Part-year residents

Multiply your Total Exemptions (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 4f) by the Total Days as a Massachusetts Resident Ratio (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 3) to get your Exemption Amount (Line 22a). The ratio is the number of days you were a Massachusetts resident, divided by 365 days.

Table of exemptions

Exemption Description Where to report
Adoption

You're allowed an exemption for fees you paid to a licensed adoption agency to adopt a minor child. 

The exemption is for:

  • The full amount of the fees paid during the taxable year, and
  • Includes fees you paid in the taxable year to an adoption agency for the adoption process of a minor child, regardless of whether an adoption actually takes place during the taxable year
Form 1 (Line 2f) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4f)
Age 65 or over

$700 exemption for each taxpayer who is age 65 or over by the end of the tax year.

If filing a joint return, each spouse may be entitled to a $700 exemption if each is age 65 or over on December 31st of the tax year.

Form 1 (Line 2c) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4c)
Blindness

$2,200 exemption for each taxpayer or spouse who 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.
Form 1 (Line 2d) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4d) 
Dependent

$1,000 exemption for each dependent claimed who qualifies for a U.S. dependent exemption under the Internal Revenue Code. This exemption does not include your or your spouse.

Dependent means either:

  • A qualifying child, or
  • A qualifying relative
Enter number of dependents from your U.S. Form 1040 (Line 6c) or 1040A (Line 6c) into the box on your Form 1 (Line 2b) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4b)
Excess

If your allowable exemption amounts are greater than your Total Income (Form 1, Line 10 or Form 1-NR/PY, Line 12), you can deduct the difference from the income you report on Schedule B and Schedule D.

Complete the "Schedule B, Line 36 and Schedule D, Line 20" worksheet section (from page 11 of the Form 1 instructions or page 16 of the Form 1 NR/PY instructions) or calculate the exemption online.

Enter the amount from Line 5 of the worksheet on Schedule B (Line 36), and enter the amount from Line 8 of the worksheet on Schedule D (Line 20).

Massachusetts bank interest

$200 (if married filing jointly) or $100 (for all other filing statuses) for reporting Massachusetts bank interest.

Massachusetts bank interest includes total amount of interest received or credited to deposit accounts (term and time deposits, including certificates of deposit,  savings accounts, savings shares, and NOW accounts.)

Form 1 (Line 5b) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 7b)
Medical/dental

An exemption is allowed for federally allowed medical, dental and other expenses paid during the taxable year. Itemize deductions on your Form 1040 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns.

If you itemize on U.S. Schedule A and have medical/dental expenses greater than 7.5% of federal AGI, you can claim a medical and dental exemption in Massachusetts equal to the amount you reported on U.S. Schedule A (Line 4).

Amount from U.S. Schedule A, Line 4 on Mass Form 1, Line 2e, or Form 1-NR/PY, Line 4e
Personal If you file a Massachusetts tax return, you're entitled to a personal exemption whether you can claim a personal exemption on your federal return or not. Your personal exemption amount depends on your filing status. Form 1 (Line 2a) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4a)

Form 1 and 1-NR/PY exemptions

Adoption exemption

You're allowed an exemption for fees you paid to a licensed adoption agency to adopt a minor child. The exemption is for:

  • The full amount of the fees paid during the taxable year, and
  • Includes fees you paid in the taxable year to an adoption agency for the adoption process of a minor child, regardless of whether an adoption actually takes place during the taxable year

You're not allowed an exemption for any parts of expenses that are paid or reimbursed by an employer and excluded from gross income under I.R.C. § 137.

See adoption assistance programs here.

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Enter the full amount of fees you paid on either Form 1, Line 2f or Form 1-NR/PY, Line 4f. Add this amount to the medical/dental exemption, if any.
  2. Enter the totals of adoption and medical on either Form 1, Line 2g, or Form 1-NR/PY, Line 4g.

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

  • A statement listing the name and address of the licensed adoption agency
  • Verification of the adoption fees you paid

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).

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

  • Verification of your age, such as a copy of a license or birth certificate

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).

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

  • A letter from your doctor to verify legal blindness

Dependent exemption

You're allowed a $1,000 exemption for each qualifying dependent you claim. This exemption doesn't include you or your spouse.

Dependent means either:

  • A qualifying child, or
  • A qualifying relative

Federally, dependent exemptions are not allowed for those who would otherwise be dependents but also file their own income tax returns and claim personal exemptions.

For Massachusetts purposes, you may claim dependent exemptions for such people if they meet all of the tests listed below for dependency, even if they claim exemptions on their own returns.

You can only claim an exemption for a qualifying child if all 5 tests are met:

  1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or any of their descendants.
  2. The child must be
    • Under age 19 at the end of the year
    • Under age 24 at the end of the year and a full-time student, or
    • Any age if permanently and totally disabled
  3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year
  4. The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year, and
  5. If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than 1 person, you must be the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.

You can only claim an exemption for a qualifying relative if all 4 tests are met:

  1. The person cannot be your qualifying child or anyone else's qualifying child
  2. The person must either be:
    • Living with you all year as a member of the household (your relationship must not violate local law), or
    • Must be related to you in 1 of the ways listed below:
      • Your child, stepchild, eligible foster child, or any of their descendants. For example, your grandchild. A legally adopted child is considered your child.
      • Your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister
      • Your father, mother, grandparent, or other direct ancestors, but not foster parent
      • Your stepfather or stepmother
      • A son or daughter of your brother or sister
      • A brother or sister of your father or mother
      • Your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
  3. The person's gross income for the year must be less than an amount determined by the IRS, and
  4. You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Enter the number of dependents you reported on either U.S. Form 1040 (Line 6c) or U.S. Form 1040A (Line 6c) into the box on either your Form 1 (Line 2b) or your Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4b).
  2. Multiply that amount by $1,000 and enter the total amount on either Form 1 (Line 2b) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4b).

Massachusetts bank interest

You're allowed an exemption of $200 (if married filing jointly) or $100 (for all other filing statuses) for reporting Massachusetts bank interest. Massachusetts bank interest includes the total amount of interest received or credited to deposit accounts (term and time deposits, including certificates of deposit, savings accounts, savings shares, and NOW accounts.)

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Enter the exemption amount on either Form 1 (Line 5b) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 7b). If married filing jointly, enter $200. Otherwise, enter $100.

Medical/dental exemption

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

Personal exemption

If you file a Massachusetts tax return, you're entitled to a personal exemption regardless of whether you can claim a personal exemption on your federal return or not. The amount of personal exemptions you're allowed depends on the filing status you claimed.

The personal exemption amounts are as follows:

Filing status Exemption amount
Single $4,400
Married filing separate $4,400
Head of household $6,800
Married filing joint $8,800

To report the exemption on your tax return:

  1. Enter the amount allowed on either Form 1 (Line 2a) or Form 1-NR/PY (Line 4a).

Schedules B and D excess exemptions

If your allowable exemption amounts are greater than your Total Income (Form 1, Line 10 or Form 1-NR/PY, Line 12), you can deduct the difference from the income you report on Schedule B and Schedule D.

Claim your exemptions in the following order:

  • Against Schedule B income after:
    1. Deductions for allowable excess trade or business deductions
    2. Short-term capital losses
    3. Unused long-term capital losses and 50% long-term capital gains deduction (for collectibles and pre-1996 installment sales). The excess exemptions are first applied against adjusted gross interest and dividends and then against adjusted gross capital gains.
  • Against Schedule D income after:
    1. Netting long-term gains and losses
    2. Applying any excess Schedule D losses against Schedule B income
    3. Deducting excess Schedule B losses, and
    4. Deducting allowable excess trade or business deductions

You can't carry forward any remaining excess exemptions to the next tax year. Married filing separate taxpayers may not claim excess exemptions either.

To determine if you qualify for excess exemptions:

  • If you're a resident, and your total exemption amount (Form 1, Line 18) is more than your income after deductions (Form 1, Line 17) - Complete the "Schedule B, Line 36 and Schedule D, Line 20 Worksheet" section on page 11 of the Form 1 Instructions, or calculate it online.
  • If you're a nonresident or part-year resident and your total exemption amount (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 22) is more than your income after deductions (Form 1-NR/PY, Line 21) - Complete the "Schedule B, Line 36 and Schedule D, Line 20 Worksheet" section on page 16 of the Form 1-NR/PY Instructions, or calculate it online.

To report the exemption on your tax returns:

  1. Enter the amount from Line 5 of the worksheet on Schedule B (Line 36), and enter the amount from Line 8 of the worksheet on Schedule D (Line 20).

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