Woburn TAB / April 6, 2020
On April 2, Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, Rep. Rich Haggerty, D-Woburn, and Rep. Michelle Ciccolo, D-Lexington, supported a bill that was passed by the Senate and House to provide necessary relief to municipalities, taxpayers, restaurants and state authorities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and state of emergency declaration. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker shortly after.
The bipartisan legislation extends the state income tax filing deadline for residents, addresses disruptions in municipal tax collections and permitting, and allows licensed restaurants to sell certain alcoholic beverages with food takeout and delivery orders, among other provisions.
“This bill addresses a variety of issues that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support our communities, restaurants and taxpayers,” said Friedman. “We must continue to do everything we can to meet the urgent needs of our communities, and this bill is another step the Legislature is taking to ensure that. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for their bipartisan efforts to protect our cities and towns during this difficult time.”
“This legislation will ease the stress for folks trying to file their taxes by delaying the tax deadline,” said Haggerty. “The bill also includes critical support for restaurants and municipal leaders during these challenging times.”
“As a former municipal official, I was pleased to be able to provide input based on my 20-plus years working in local government to ensure that this critical legislation gives voice to the needs of municipalities and my constituents. It was important that we expedited this bill to help ensure our cities and towns have the tools and resources necessary to continue operating during this public health crisis,” said Ciccolo.
The major provisions of the bill include:
Tax deadline extension: The bill provides immediate relief to taxpayers and extends the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The extension of the tax filing and payment deadline to July 15 is consistent with the federal government and provides additional flexibility to filers during this crisis.
Restaurant service: The bill includes immediate economic relief to restaurants and other establishments that are licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption to sell wine and beer with food takeout and delivery. This change would restore a crucial source of revenue to restaurants and other food establishments.
Municipal governance: This legislation also immediately addresses several challenges affecting municipal functions and operations during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The bill:
• Allows extensions for property tax exemption and deferrals from April 1 to June 1.
• Modifies the permitting process to ensure flexibility for applicants and status hearing processes.
• Allows annual town meeting to be delayed beyond June 30.
• Enables a town moderator or person designated as such to reschedule town meetings for up to 30 days, and to do so multiple times if needed.
• Permits municipalities to utilize retired employees and lifts pension-related hour restrictions for employees who return to work as it relates to COVID-19 response.
• Prohibits essential services provided by the city or town from being terminated as a result of a missed or late payment.
The bill also makes several adjustments to the municipal budgeting process so that cities and towns can continue to meet their fiduciary responsibility and provide resources for their residents.