Pittsfield- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announced today that he has co-sponsored new legislation titled An Act Relative to Tax Deductions for Home Heating Costs to address the high cost of heating homes this winter season. The legislation was drafted by Senator Michael R. Knapik (R – Westfield).
“At the top of every policymaker’s priority list is to help ensure the necessities of living are available to all citizens,” remarked Downing. “Home heating costs are predicted to be very high this winter. This proposal will provide some financial relief to homeowners, and I am happy to lend my support its passage.”
Modeled after a similar program ratified by the Legislature in the winter of 2005 and 2006, this bill, if passed, would allow income eligible taxpayers to claim a deduction on their income taxes for the cost of home heating fuel up to a maximum of $800. It requires that the deduction be used solely for the cost of home heating oil, natural gas, propane, electricity, and wood fuel purchased between November 1, 2007 and March 21, 2008. If the taxpayer does not take the full $800 deduction in taxable year 2007, the individual may take the remainder in taxable year 2008 for purchases made in 2008 through March 21, 2008. The deduction would be limited to individuals who make less than $50,000 per year and families with incomes up to $75,000 per year.
In related news, The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP assists low-income individuals and families with the costs of heating their homes during the winter season. On average, LIHEAP funds have helped over 130,000 households annually across the Commonwealth. In November, Governor Patrick signed a $15 million dollar energy bill to provide heating assistance to low-income families that supplements the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This year the program will provide fuel assistance to low-income individuals with annual incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, not to exceed 60% of the state median income, or $40,000 for a family of four. For more information on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program please visit the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development website at www.mass.gov/dhcd.
This legislation must be admitted by both the Senate and House of Representatives before being referred to a joint committee for consideration. Its sponsors will advocate for a timely public hearing at the State House. At that time, individuals may submit written testimony in support or opposition of the bill.