Taxes on homes or other property in Massachusetts are typically based on two pieces of information including the towns property tax rate and the assessed value.
Obviously the tax rate is set in stone and is not something that is going to be changed once it is put in place for that particular fiscal year. What does change of course is the assessed value of the home.
If you are a Massachusetts home owner, appealing a Massachusetts property tax bill if something you may want to consider if you feel the assessed value is way off base on your home.
How is assessed value calculated
In order to appeal the property tax bill you are going to need to have a good understanding of how the assessed value of your property was calculated by your local tax assessor.
A Real Estate assessed value is typically calculated on a year to year basis in most communities although it is possible it could be every few years for some. What you need to clearly understand is that the assessed value of a property is NOT the same as:
- An appraised value by a lender
- A market evaluation by a Realtor which is often called a BPO or broker price opinion
- The actual market value
It is easy to understand why the general public can get confused on the assessed value vs fair market value issue because even many Real Estate agents don’t know the difference! How do I know this? From some of the crazy statements I hear from hanging around the office water cooler or even some of the silly advertising that you find in the Multiple listing service or other advertisements.
As an example “come take a look at this bargain priced home listed for $100,000 less than assessed value”. I bet you are getting excited already and want to see this place – NOT!
What this tells me is that the agent marketing the property knows very little about property valuation or they think someone else might be stupid enough to believe the property is being given away by the owner. A good buyer’s agent that didn’t just get their license and has a bit of intelligence would be able to point out to a naive buyer that the home has been over assessed by the town and the owner is paying too much in taxes!
Keep in mind that assessed values are nothing more than a yard stick for a municipality to collect an appropriate amount of taxes to sufficiently cover the state and local appropriations chargeable to the city and town.
Towns adjust the tax rate and a properties assessed value to achieve this goal. For a complete explanation see Assessed value v.s fair market value.
So how do you go about checking on whether the assessed value of your home makes sense? The 1st thing you are going to want to do is look over what is called the town assessment field card and check it over for accuracy. The town field card will have pertinent information about your property including the bedroom and bath count, the gross living area, the age, garage type and size, as well as the amount of land you own. All of these things play a large roll in where your assessment will be figured.
You will want to look over the field card diligently to make sure everything is correct. If there are blatant errors that pop out you may have an easy challenge on your hands.
One would imagine that if you believe you are being over assessed it could be because your neighbor of someone else with similar characteristics to your property is being assessed at a lower amount. This is clearly a possibility and actually happens fairly often.
What you are going to need to do is have someone provide you with what they feel are the most comparable properties to yours that have sold in the town. A skilled local Realtor is usually a good option to help you with this. Armed with this information you can then check the assessed values on those properties. There should be some kind of correlation with these properties. Don’t discount the fact that your home may be in a more attractive neighborhood. If the assessed value of the similar homes are lower you may have a case.
Meet with the local tax assessor
With your research in hand you should schedule an appointment with your local assessors office and file for a tax abatement. The necessary paper work regarding the application process and the deadlines for filing should be made available to you.
Applications for abatement’s are typically due on or before the due date for payment of the first actual tax bill. The towns assessor has up to three months in Massachusetts to act upon an abatement request.
If you are denied your abatement request and do not feel that the assessor made the proper ruling you have the right to appeal to the State Appellate Tax Board.
One other thing to keep in mind is that you may be eligible for other tax exemptions if you are a senior citizen, served in the military or have a disability. For an explanation of these exclusions see Massachusetts property tax relief. These are programs that many Massachusetts residents may not even be aware of.
About the author: The above Real Estate information on appealing a Massachusetts property tax bill was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.