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The assessors are required by Massachusetts law to value all real and taxable personal property within the town. The legal standard is that all property, from the smallest condominium to the largest commercial property, is assessed at its "full and fair cash value". This is done to ensure that all taxpayers only pay their fair share of the cost of local government.
Assessors also have the responsibility of committing motor vehicle excise tax bills, originated by the State Registry of Motor Vehicles, and boat excise tax bills, generated at the local level. Assessors also administer sewer betterments generated by the Department of Public Works. Also assessors must review and process personal exemptions which are a form of tax credits for qualify taxpayers.
Market value, or full and fair cash value, is the most probable price for which a property will sell in an open, competitive market that a willing buyer will pay for a property to a willing seller, both acting knowledgeably and prudently and neither being under any obligation to buy or sell. Sales such as foreclosures and family sales are generally not considered to be "arms length" or fair market transactions.
The assessed value represents the estimate of market value of the property. The real estate market changes constantly. The assessment for the fiscal year 2010 represents the estimate of market value as of January 1, 2009. This estimate of market value is determined by examining sales of properties primarily calendar year 2008. Although there may not have been any physical changes to the property, buyers may be paying more or less for properties than they were in previous years. The assessment changes reflect the changes in the purchase prices of similar homes in the neighborhood. The assessments do not predict market value. The assessments reflect (or report) market value. The real estate market can change dramatically from year to year. Buyers and sellers determine the market value of properties. The assessments reflect what the buyers and sellers are doing as of the assessment date.
The amount of taxes you pay is determined by the appropriations voted by the Town. The Town adopts a budget that reflects what services will be provided and the cost to provide those services. After Town Meeting adopts a budget, the amount of taxes to be raised is calculated in accordance with Proposition 2-1/2 and divided by the total taxable valuation of the Town to determine the projected single tax rate. The Board of Selectmen holds a public hearing to determine whether and how much residential tax will be transferal onto the commercial properties, commonly referred to as the split tax rate (commercial properties pay a higher tax rate than residential properties). All the information is forwarded to the Department of Revenue for its review and approval. The tax rates are then finalized to raise the needed dollars to pay for the services that the Town voted to approve.
If you believe that your property is overassessed, not assessed fairly in comparison to other properties, or that it is not classified corrected, you have the right to file for an abatement of taxes. An application must be filed with the Assessors Office. Applications are available at the Assessors office or online. In filing an abatement application you will want to be specific about why you disagree with your assessment. Is there some misinformation on you property record card? Did you find values of comparable properties lower than your property? Please provide us with all the necessary information to support your position on valuation.
Once the actual tax bills (3rd installment of Quarterly Billing) are mailled, you have until the due date of the 3rd installment (February 1) to file an abatement application with the Assessor’s Office. Please note that the Board of Assessors may only consider an application for abatement that has been filed with the Assessors Office in a timely manner. Abatement applications must be in the Assessors's office by the due date or postmarked by the USPS by that date or the Assessors cannot act on the application.
By contacting the Board of Assessors' office at 508-910-1809 or stopping by their office Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.