New Year and New Property Taxes in Massachusetts 2015

Now that we are firmly into the new year, Massachusetts residents should have already received their updated property tax assessments in the mail. Property taxes are calculated by multiplying your city’s tax rate by the assessed value of your property and all the structures on it, which may vary depending on the way in which the assessor arrives at your property’s estimated value.

Overall, your bill may not necessarily have increased that much since your assessment last year. That is because in Massachusetts a state regulation, called Proposition 2½, caps the amount of taxes that cities and towns may levy to an increase of no more than 2.5 percent (hence the name) each year.

Factors that can affect the property tax assessment include a renovation to your home, an addition to your home, or any other major improvement.

Keep in mind, however, that any major projects undertaken after the assessment date of this fiscal year, which was January 1, 2014, will not be taken into consideration for this year, but rather will take effect for next year. What this means is that if you did begin a renovation or major undertaking after that date, you can attempt to estimate what your new property tax amount might be, and set that aside if you wish to plan in advance.

If you are a first-time home buyer, you may be wondering when you can expect your property tax bills. They are issued on a quarterly basis and are sent approximately 30 days before they must be paid. Since they are issued quarterly, they will be mailed out four times, on the first of July, October, January, and April.

Challenging an Assessment

If you believe that your new property tax assessment is inaccurate, there is a way to challenge the assessment.

You can contact your local assessor’s office to inquire about the review process in order to determine if there was perhaps an error.

You can also file an abatement application, which is the first step in the process for protesting an assessment.

Abatements can be granted in the cases of:

  • Statutory exemption (e.g. elderly, widows, veterans, minors, etc.);
  • Improper classification (the property is classified as commercial, when it is really residential);
  • Disproportional assessment (the property is assessed in excess of assessments of comparable properties); or
  • Overvaluation (the assessed value is too high compared with the real estate market).

Following this process, if the issue has not been resolved, you can also file an appeal with the Appellate Tax Board.

However, it is important to keep in mind that if the total tax on real estate is over $3,000, the tax must be paid by the date due in order to maintain the right to appeal an abatement decision of the assessor. A successful abatement is issued in the form of a refund for the excess assessed amount.

As experienced Massachusetts real estate attorneys, Pulgini & Norton can help you with all of your real estate legal needs. If you have a question regarding buying, selling, or financing a home, give us a call today at 781-843-2200 or contact our office online, and we can help legally clear the way for you.

More Blog Posts:
Record Low Mortgage Rates in Massachusetts, Good Time to Buy, Great Time to Refinance, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published February 2, 2015

As Massachusetts Massive Snow Storm Nears, Thoughts to What Comes Afterwards, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published January 27, 2015

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