Appealing a Massachusetts assessed home value Challenging Tax-Based Values

Taxes on homes or other property in Massachusetts are typically based on two pieces of information, including the town’s 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. Of course, what changes is the assessed value of the home.

If you are a Massachusetts homeowner, appealing a Massachusetts property tax bill is something you may want to consider if you feel the assessed value is way off base on your home.

We are going to discuss in brief below how the taxes are determined on your home. If you feel you are getting over-taxed on your home, you must know how to appeal high property taxes. Knowing how to file for a tax abatement and win is easy when you understand how your property value is determined.

Follow the guide I have prepared, and you will understand what to do.

How is an Assessed Value Calculated

To appeal the property tax bill, you will need to understand how your local tax assessor calculated the assessed value of your property.

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 understand clearly is that the assessed value of a property is NOT the same as these things:

  • 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.

For example, “Come look at this bargain-priced home listed for $100,000 less than the assessed value”. I bet you are getting excited already and want to see this place – NOT!

This tells me that the agent marketing the property knows very little about property valuation, or they think someone else might be stupid enough to believe the owner is giving the property away.

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!

The assessed value is also not the same as appraised value. See assessed value vs. appraised value for an explanation.

Assessed Values Are Used to Collect Massachusetts Property Taxes

Remember that assessed values are nothing more than a yardstick for a municipality to collect appropriate taxes to sufficiently cover the state and local appropriations chargeable to the city and town.

Towns adjust the tax rate and property assessed value to achieve this goal. For a complete explanation, see assessed home value v.s fair market value.

Reducing Massachusetts property taxes So how do you go about checking on whether the assessed value of your home makes sense?

The 1st thing you will want to do is look over what is called the town assessment field card and check it for accuracy.

The town field card will have pertinent information about your property, including the bedroom and bath count, the square footage, the age, garage type, and size, as well as the amount of land you own.

All of these things play a significant role in where your assessment will be figured.

Check The Accuracy of Property Tax Information

You will want to look over the field card diligently to ensure everything is correct. If blatant errors 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 or someone else with similar characteristics to your property is being assessed at a lower amount. This is clearly a possibility and actually happens pretty often.

You will need someone to 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 an excellent option to help you with this. Armed with this information, you can check those properties’ assessed values.

There should be some kind of correlation between these properties. Don’t discount the fact that your home may be in a more attractive neighborhood. If the assessed value of similar homes is 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 assessor’s office and file for a tax abatement. The necessary paperwork regarding the application process and the deadlines for filing should be made available to you.

Applications for abatements are typically due on or before the due date for payment of the first actual tax bill. The town’s assessor has up to three months in Massachusetts to approve 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.

Another thing to remember 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.

Final Thoughts

If your tax assessment is higher than other similar properties, it will be worth filing an appeal. You will never know if you could have reduced your real estate tax bill without trying.


About the Author: The above Real Estate information on appealing a Massachusetts property tax bill is provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for 36+ Years.

Are you thinking of selling your home? I am passionate about real estate and love sharing my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.