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Everything You Wanted to Know
About Tax Exemptions But Were Afraid...

Kathleen Corey Rahme

Studying with my daughter for her fourth-grade social studies test on government made me realize how early we need to begin learning about the role of tax in our lives.

As we went through the exercises we were taught that all levels of government collect taxes from citizens to pay for services. I decided to explain what a service was by using our own city as an example.

You know how you would explain the police, the roads and garbage removal to a nine-year old. It was even more interesting trying to explain how much it costs and that everyone is responsible for the whole city and not just the parts of the whole they consume.

As a taxpayer in Methuen you are charged according to what your home is worth. It isn’t what you paid for it, or what you think it is worth. The assessment is mandated by the state and it is pretty accurate. In 2005, Methuen homeowner’s pay $10.04 per $1000 valuation. The tax dollars are used to pay for all the services we enjoy and rely upon to insure the quality of life to which we have grown accustomed. Most people will agree, and the numbers speak for themselves, that Methuen is a nice place to live and the government is in excellent shape.

The government tries to look for some relief for taxpayers who meet qualifications as listed below. There are fifteen different categories. This information is available at City Hall and there are very qualified people in the Assessor’s Office who are willing and able to go through the necessary steps to help you receive the exemptions you are entitled to receive.
See  document below.

Politicians are always trying to make plans to create added relief for various groups. In a perfect world it would be something we would all embrace. The state lawmakers have been on record of late with hopes of creating ways for people on fixed incomes, like our seniors for example, to receive tax breaks. This brings me back to my daughter’s fourth-grade lesson. The money must come from somewhere.

 If you lessen the burden of one tax-paying group, you will out of necessity create an unfair burden on another group. Something has to give. The clever way it was explained to me in City Hall is to visualize a balloon. The balloon represents the city and all the taxpayers. If you squeeze the balloon on one side, the other side just gets bigger.

Since taking office I have helped people apply for these tax exemptions. It is especially rewarding to know I assisted a veteran from World War II receive an exemption. I can tell you that sometimes the bureaucracy and all the reams of paper that accompany it can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid. 

If you think you may qualify, I encourage you to visit the customer friendly offices of Methuen’s City Hall. They can help you with everything you wanted to know about tax exemptions but were afraid to ask.    

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Prior Columns by Councilor kathleen Corey Rahme