THE ROLE OF ASSESSORS IN MUNICIPAL FINANCE
In Massachusetts, assessors are either appointed or elected to three-year terms. The assessors’ primary responsibility is to value all real estate and personal property subject to taxation. Assessed valuations are based on “full and fair cash value” as of the January 1st preceding each fiscal year.
In order to maintain assessments at or near market value, the assessors regularly compare property valuations with the selling prices of properties that have sold. Assessment-to-sale ratio statistics are analyzed to determine the median assessment level, as well as assessment uniformity.
No valuation methodology can accurately predict what a property will sell for. A secondary role of the assessors is to generate equitable assessments. To that end, we continually strive to maintain an accurate property database and refine valuation tables and formulas that yield both equitable and explainable assessments.
All taxpayers have the right to file for an abatement of their taxes if they believe that their property has not been valued fairly. Information regarding applications and deadlines to file for abatements is printed on tax bills and can be obtained by contacting the assessors. Applicants should present compelling evidence to support a claim of overvaluation.
An exemption releases an individual from the requirement to pay all or part of their property tax obligation. Exemptions are available to those individuals who meet the various requirements in the following categories:
Minor children of police / firefighters killed in the line of duty
Widows or widowers
Orphaned minor children
Applications for abatements must be received by the assessors, or postmarked, within thirty days of the date of the actual (not preliminary) tax bill mailing. Preliminary bills are not eligible for abatement.
Applications for personal exemptions are due on December 15th, or within three months of the mailing date of the actual (not preliminary) tax bill.
If you are not satisfied with the action taken by the assessors regarding your request for abatement and/or exemption, you have the right to appeal to the State Appellate Tax Board:
100 Cambridge St #200
Boston, MA 02114