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Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards has called for a hearing to help residents repay their back taxes.

Seniors and low-income homeowners in Boston who may be “house rich, cash poor” can fall behind on property taxes, she said in a release, and then face a “hurdle” trying to catch up.

The city of Boston does offer payment plans for back taxes, according to Edwards, but they require a large down payment and a year time limit, so they can still burden some residents. Homeowners who cannot repay their back taxes within one year face the risk of foreclosure.

But there’s more that Boston can, and should do, according to Edwards. She is pushing for the city to expand the length of tax repayment and to forgive a portion of interest on back taxes, so these residents can be able to stay in their homes.

 

“As city agencies work to stabilize our communities and address the many housing and economic challenges we face, we should use all tools at our disposal to prevent crisis scenarios before they start,” she said in a statement. “Offering another tool to seniors and low-income homeowners on repayment of late taxes is one simple step we could take to prevent foreclosures and allow residents facing economic challenges to stay in place.”

State law allows already allows cities and towns the option to extend the repayment of property taxes from one year to up to five, Edward noted, and to forgive up to half of that interest.

"Today, too many elderly and low-income Boston residents face increasing property tax bills that they cannot afford," said Todd S. Kaplan, senior attorney of Greater Boston Legal Services, in a statement. "By offering these residents more flexible payment plans to pay their back taxes with the opportunity to reduce accrued interest, we can help homeowners get current on their taxes and take real steps to ensuring Boston is a city for people of all ages and income levels."