By Tom Sannicandro
About 106 million Americans are a part of what is called the Longevity Economy. This population, made up of Americans 50 years and older, is contributing to the economy in positive ways. This population represents $7.1 trillion of economic activity, more than half of all economic activity in the United States.
In Massachusetts the over-50 population is 35 percent of our state population but accounts for 49 percent of Massachusetts’GDP.
These findings emerged from an Oxford Economics study recently commissioned by the AARP entitled “The Longevity Economy: Generating Economic Growth and New Opportunities for Business.”
As a member of the Longevity Economy, I was surprised and pleased by the findings.
The report highlights facts about the Longevity Economy that politicians should understand while considering policy.
The over 50 population has unique needs and spending habits that represent an oversized portion of the economy.
The over 50 population’s spending on health care in Massachusetts supports 571,000 jobs.
A culture of inclusionary employment will accommodate the needs of both younger and older employees.
While these findings were encouraging, it is also important to remember that there are many in the Longevity Economy who are struggling. Policymakers need to continue supporting these individuals as well.
Seniors on fixed incomes, for example, have few options. If their property value or rent continues to rise, their budgets are squeezed tighter.
That is why the state began a program called “The Circuit Breaker”that could save seniors as much as $1,050 on their state income taxes this year. If you or your spouse are 65 or older as of Dec. 31, 2014, you may qualify.
The formula is simple. If a senior’s property tax plus 50% of their water/sewer bill is more than 10 percent of their income, they qualify. For seniors who rent, if 25 percent of their rent is more than 10 percent of their income, they qualify. For every dollar over those levels, seniors are entitled to a dollar back on their 2013 state taxes, up to the $1,050 maximum. Seniors may also file for any year in the past three years to claim the credit if they did not file for it before.
Seniors also must own property in Massachusetts assessed at no more than $691,000, and have an annual income of $56,000 or less for single filers, $70,000 or less for head of household filers, or $84,000 or less for joint filers.
There are other eligibility requirements, so I encourage seniors interested in learning more to visit www.massresources.org/circuit-breaker-tax-credit.html. There, you can learn more about how to qualify and download the form to submit with your taxes to receive the credit. You may also call the Department of Revenue’s 24-hour toll free number at 1-800-392-6089 or visit with a tax professional.
If you have general questions about it, please contact my office at 617-722-2013. There is also a page on my website tomworksforus.com/seniortaxcredit that has links to forms and information about the credit.
As we move forward we must recognize the important role the over-50 population plays in our economy, and continue to support those who are struggling.