An abatement is a reduction in the tax assessed on your property for the fiscal year. To dispute your assessment or to correct any other billing problem or error that caused your tax bill to be higher than it should be, you must apply for an abatement. You may apply for an abatement if your property is: 1) overvalued, 2) disproportionately assessed in comparison with other properties, 3) classified incorrectly as residential, open space, commercial or industrial real property, or 4) partially or fully exempt.
When and where do I file?
Applications for property tax abatements are available at the Assessor’s Office or at the bottom of this webpage. Forms may be filed any time after the third quarter tax bill is mailed and on or before the due date of that bill, usually the first business day of February. Any application filed after the date taxes are due as a matter of state law cannot be considered by the Assessors. No abatement can be granted unless the application is filed on time.
What happens after I file?
All applicants may be subject to a complete interior and exterior inspection of the property. Next, each application and all relevant property information will be reviewed by the Board of Assessors. Then the sales of the most similar properties will be reviewed and particular attention will be given to those sales submitted by the applicant.
The Assessing department is authorized by law to request information that is necessary if we are to properly determine the fair cash value of the property. Massachusetts general law chapter 59 section 61. To preserve your right to appeal an abatement decision, you must provide all information to the Assessing department. Failure to respond to an information request within 30 days of the date on which the application for abatement is filed, will result in a denial of the application and may bar an appeal to the appellate tax board.
The Board must render a decision within three months from the date of application is received and notify the applicant within 10 days of that decision. If you have any questions about the decision of your abatement application, feel free to contact the Assessing Department.
Do I still pay my taxes after I file an application for abatement?
Filing an application does not stay the collection of your taxes. In some cases, you must pay all preliminary and actual installments of the tax when due to appeal the assessors’ disposition of your application. Failure to pay the tax assessed when due may also subject you to interest charges and collection action. To avoid any loss of rights or additional charges, you should pay the tax as assessed. If an abatement is granted and you have already paid the entire year’s tax as abated, you will receive a refund of any overpayment.
Can I appeal the decision of the Board of Assessors?
Yes you can, within three months of the decision of the Board. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessors, you may file an appeal with the states’ Appellate Tax Board, 100 Cambridge St, Boston, MA 02114. Their telephone number is 1-617-727-3100.