The Boston Herald has a story today on elderly Boston residents living in public or subsidized housing being talked into filing fraudulent tax returns to receive the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit.
The scam goes something like this. Elderly persons living in public housing are being told that for a $50 application, they will receive a tax credit that, in reality ,is supposed to go only to persons 65 or over who either own their homes, or who rent in the private housing market.
The law is quite clear; the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit cannot be claimed by a resident of public or subsidized housing. Some seniors who have been bamboozled into filing a fraudulent application have received tax credits — actually, checks — from the Commonwealth for hundreds of dollars (most however are for less than the maximum credit of $970). Any taxpayer who receives this credit fraudulently will have to pay it back to the Commonwealth.
DOR learned of this scam from Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), a community development group long known for the assistance it provides to the elderly and low-income people. ABCD is one of many community groups that provides, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, free and legal tax preparation services. DOR thanks ABCD for bringing this scam to our attention.
ABCD told DOR that representatives of the Instant Tax Service at 300 Warren Street in Roxbury were apparently visiting public housing sites recruiting taxpayers to file a tax return seeking the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit, and were charging elderly residents $50 to apply.
DOR encourages qualified seniors to file for the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax credit, which last year delivered some $78 million back to more than 60,000 taxpayers. This is an excellent progam — for those who are qualified to participate.
In the meantime, DOR is reviewing Senior Circuit Tax Breaker applications to make sure they are valid.