Personal Property Information - Continued

Business Corporations

(Excludes: utilities, certain insurance companies, certain banks and manufacturing corporations)

Business corporations are taxable on poles, underground conduits, wires and pipes. They are also taxable on all “machinery used in the conduct of business” except:

  1. Machines that are stock in trade. Inventory for sale such as copy machines for sale by a copy machine distributor, or inventory for lease such as a computer being leased by a computer company is not taxable.
  2. Machinery used directly in the dry cleaning or laundering process; to refrigerate goods or to air condition premises. Sewing machines and a mechanical clothes rack are not directly used in the cleaning or laundering process and would be taxable even if owned by an incorporated dry cleaners. Refrigerators or air conditioners used in an incorporated restaurant or a supermarket would not be taxable.
  3. Machinery used directly in the purchasing, selling, accounting or administrative function of the business. For example the vending machines, bill changers and cash registers are not taxable because they are used in a selling or purchasing function. Taxable are those machines providing entertainment, such as pinball machines, video games and juke boxes. Machines that are used specifically and primarily for accounting or administrative functions are not taxable. If the machine is used to provide a service or produce a product for sale, it is taxable. For example, a photocopier owned by an incorporated restaurant and used in an administrative or accounting function in keeping the internal records for the business would not be taxable. Conversely, the photocopier of an incorporated copying business is used to generate a service, copying for a fee, and is taxable.

Manufacturing Corporations

(Classified as “Manufacturing “ by the Department of Revenue)

Businesses that are classified by the Department of Revenue, as Manufacturing Corporations are taxable on: poles, underground conduits, wires, pipes and machinery used in the distribution of water.

Businesses are not automatically classified as a manufacturer. If a business is seeking classification as a manufacturer, it must be incorporated and apply to the commissioner of revenue at:

Mass. Dept. of Revenue
Taxpayer Assistance Bureau-Mfg. Unit
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114

Other Corporations

Corporations that are not business corporations or manufacturing corporations are handled separately. The personal property reporting for these other corporations is outside the scope of this brochure.

III. Appealing the Personal Property Tax

If the taxpayer feels that the personal property tax should not have been assessed or if the amount of the assessment is too high due to an error, an application for abatement can be made. This application must be filed with the Board of Assessors after the Third Quarter tax bill has been mailed and no later then February 1st. (This bill is issued on or about Jan 1st, it will list the valuation and taxes due)

If no Form of List was filed for the fiscal year, the assessors cannot grant an abatement for overvaluation of the personal property for that year. If the Form of List is not filed on time, the assessors can only grant an abatement if the taxpayer shows a reasonable excuse for the late filing, or the tax assessed is more that 150% of the amount that would have been assessed if the list had been filed on time. In that case, only the amount over the 150% of the correct value can be abated.

IV. Summary

The personal property tax is levied principally on businesses and is based upon the non-real estate, tangible assets of the business.

Each business must file a personal property Form of List with the assessors’ office by March 1st. This form enables a business to provide a list of its current assets to the Board of Assessors.

Unincorporated businesses must report on all of their furniture, fixtures, machinery, equipment and inventory.

Incorporated businesses must report on all machinery used in the conduct of business except for the machinery used only for administrative purposes.

Classified manufactures need only report on poles, underground conduits, wires and pipes.

Abatements must be filed with the assessor’s office after the Third Quarter tax bill has been mailed and no later then February 1st.

For Further Assistance

The staff of The Board of Assessors is available to assist in answering questions or concerns about your property tax assessment.

Call or Visit
Board of Assessors
Town Hall 1st Floor

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