- Do I qualify for a real estate tax exemption?
A tax exemption is a discharge from the obligation to pay part of a real estate tax. State law determines exemption amounts and eligibility requirements. For example, if a person meets all the requirements of a particular exemption, he or she will receive the tax reduction allowed for that exemption. Application for exemption must be made annually.
The Board of Assessors mails applications to prior applicants in August. Applications must include all information requested, the signature of the applicant, and must be filed with the Board of Assessors on or before April 1, or 3 months after actual (not preliminary) tax bills are mailed for the fiscal year if later. The Board of Assessors will act on the application within three months of receipt. The exemption amount is usually used to reduce the balance of the 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills. Brochures are available in our office describing each exemption. Brochures are also available on the Massachusetts Division of Local Services Website.
- Is there a list of exemptions?
Elderly (Clause 41C) - $1000.00
At least 70 years of age on July 1. Owns and occupies the property on July 1rst of the tax year. Lived in Massachusetts for 10 years and has owned property in Massachusetts for 5 years. Income and assets guidelines apply, so please contact the Assessor's office at 508-669-5043. View more information about the Elderly - Clause 41C Form (PDF).
Surviving Spouse or Minor Child (Clause 17) $331.30
Surviving spouse or minor child owns and occupies the property as a domicile. At least 70 years of age; owned and lived at property as a domicile for 5 years. Assets guidelines apply so please contact the Assessor's office at 508-669-5043 X6 excluding value and unpaid mortgage balance on the property. No limitations on annual income for eligibility under Clause 17. View more information about Surviving Spouse or Minor Child - Clause 17 (PDF).
Blind Persons (Clause 37A) - $577.20
Annual proof of blindness by providing either a Certificate from the Commission for the Blind attesting to legal blindness or a letter from a doctor certifying blindness in accordance with the commission. A blind person owns the property as domicile on July 1. View more information about the Blind Persons - Clause 37A (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22) - $461.75
War service disability of at least 10% as determined by the Veterans Administration. Veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart. Gold Star Parents. Spouses and surviving spouses of veterans are entitled to exemption. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22 (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22A) - $865.80
Suffered loss in line of duty or permanent loss of use of one foot, hand, or eye. Received the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or Air Force Cross. If the property type is other than single family, a portion of $865.80 - exemption which corresponds to the segment occupied by veterans will be allowed. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22A (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22B)
Veterans and spouses who suffered a loss in line of duty or permanent loss of use of both feet or both hands or eyes. If the property type is other than a single family, a portion of exemption that corresponds to the segment occupied by veterans will be allowed. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22B (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22C)
Veterans and spouses who suffered total disability in the line of duty or received assistance in acquiring "specially adapted housing" owned and occupied as a domicile. If the property type is other than a single family, a portion of exemption that corresponds to the segment occupied by veterans will be allowed. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22C (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22D) - Full Exemption
Surviving spouses (who have never remarried) of soldiers, sailors, and guardsmen who died as a proximate result of a combat injury or disease, or who are missing and presumed dead due to combat. A surviving spouse must have lived in Massachusetts for at least 5 consecutive years before the tax year begins (or lived in Massachusetts for at least 1 consecutive year before the tax year begins, if the legislative body of your city or town has voted to accept this local option). If not, the deceased soldier, sailor, or guardsmen had to have been domiciled in Massachusetts for at least 6 consecutive months before entering the service. Surviving spouses of soldiers, sailors, or guardsmen who died or were presumed dead from combat on or after September 11, 2001, may also receive retroactive exemptions beginning as early as the fiscal year 2003. Eligibility depends on the date of death or presumed death, and the satisfaction of all other qualifications. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22D Full Exemption (PDF).
Veteran (Clause 22E) - $1,154.40
Suffered total disability in line of duty and incapable of working. If the property type is other than a single family, a portion of the $1154.40 exemption which corresponds to the segment occupied by veterans will be allowed. View more information about Veteran - Clause 22E (PDF).
- I applied for an exemption on my property, but why didn't it show up on my bill?
Any application for exemption (veteran, widow, blind or elderly) must be received by December 1 for the exemption to show on your actual (January) tax bill.
- What is Proposition 2½?
Proposition 2½ is a title given to an initiative petition adopted by voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1980.
Its principal features are related to the total amount of property taxes that a city or town can raise each year. Other parts of the initiative, however, limited state agency assessments on cities and towns, prohibited unfunded state mandates and repealed school committees, and binding arbitration for certain public employees.
In addition, it reduced the motor vehicle excise tax and allowed renters a deduction on their state income tax.
- Does Proposition 2½ mean that my taxes cannot increase more than 2½% per year?
No. Proposition 2½ sets a limit on the entire tax levy for a jurisdiction. While there is a limit to the overall increase in property taxes, the revaluation program may result in increases or decreases in property taxes. Proposition 2½ established a limit on the revenue a municipality can raise from property taxes. Proposition 2½ does not limit the amount by which an individual tax bill may change from year to year.
The revenue that is collected from the property tax is called the property tax levy.
The levy is limited as follows:
- Limit 1 - Levy Ceiling
The property tax levy cannot exceed 2½% of the total assessed value of the municipality. For example, if a municipality is valued at $100 million, it could only raise $2.5 million from property taxes.
- Limit 2 - Levy Increase Limit
If the actual levy is less than the levy limit, the levy may only increase by 2½% above the prior year's levy after making an adjustment for new growth.
- Limit 1 - Levy Ceiling
- How does Proposition 2½ limit property taxes?
Proposition 2½ contains two limitations on the amount of property taxes the town can raise:
- The property tax levy ceiling (the amount raised) can never exceed 2½% of the full cash value of all taxable property in the town. A tax rate cannot be higher than $25 per $1,000 of valuation.
- The property tax levy limit cannot be increased more than 2½% over the prior year's levy limit, with certain exceptions for new growth, or through overrides and exclusions as adopted by the voters.
- What is personal property and how is it taxed?
Personal property is tangible property other than real estates such as machinery, furniture, pipelines, wires, and poles. All personal property owned by a registered business organization (sole proprietorship, partnership, trust, or corporation) is taxable unless expressly exempt. Personal property is taxable in the municipality where the property is situated on January 1st each year. If a business leaves the municipality after January 1, personal property tax is due for the entire year unless an application for abatement is timely filed and granted.
- What is the filing deadline for Forms of List?
Massachusetts General Law requires that every business owning or holding taxable personal property file a Form of List annually by March 1st. The Board of Assessors mails a Form of List to known businesses on January 1st. A Form of List is not considered filed unless it is complete (lists all taxable personal property) and signed. If a Form of List is not filed, then an abatement shall not be granted. Download the Form of List (PDF) or visit the Massachusetts Division of Local Services for a copy.
- How is personal property valued?
Personal Property is valued by using the replacement cost method minus depreciation, based on age and condition. Every five years during the town's revaluation, all businesses are visited and taxable personal property verified.
- What is motor vehicle excise tax?
Motor Vehicle Excise Tax is an annual tax for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or trailer. Anyone who registers a vehicle in Massachusetts will receive an excise tax bill from the municipality where the vehicle is garaged. The amount of excise tax due is calculated by multiplying the value of the vehicle by the tax rate ($25 per thousand dollars of value). The value of the vehicle is determined by the Registry formula taking the applicable percentage for the year of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). The manufacturer's list price rather than the actual purchase price is used to calculate motor vehicle excise tax.
Applicable Percentage for the Year
- In the year preceding the year of manufacture - 50%
- In the year of manufacture - 90%
- In the second year - 60%
- In the third year - 40%
- In the fourth year - 25%
- In the fifth and succeeding years - 10%
- When am I eligible for motor vehicle excise abatement?
Please note that an application for abatement does not stay collection of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. In the event abatement is granted due to sale, trade, theft, loss, etc., the amount abated will be refunded to you. No abatement shall be granted for less than $5, and no amount shall be refunded below $5. The Board of Assessors has the authority to abate an excise tax bill only if an application is timely filed. To be timely filed, an application must be received on or before December 31st of the year following the year to which the excise bill relates. Once registered in the year, a bill can be abated only if the vehicle is sold, traded, junked, totaled, or otherwise disposed of and the plates are transferred to another vehicle or canceled. If the vehicle is disposed of and the plates are not transferred or canceled, no abatement can be issued: or if the plates have been canceled or transferred and the original vehicle is not disposed of, no abatement can be issued.
You may be eligible for an excise abatement in any of the situations listed below. Come into the Assessor's office to complete an abatement application and provide us with all the required documentation. All requested supporting documentation must be supplied for the bill to be abated.
Documentation needed if your vehicle was...
- Sold or Traded: Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred and bill of sale or paperwork showing trade.
- Stolen or Total Loss: Insurance Company Settlement Letter and C-19 form (Affidavit of Lost or Stolen Plate from Registry) and New Registration if plate transferred
- Moved From Town: Proof of Residency prior to January 1rst of the year of the bill: e.g. utility bill, voter registration receipt, lease (moving to another city or town during the calendar year does not entitle you to an abatement). You must notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of your move.
- Moved From Massachusetts: Registration from New State and a Plate Return Receipt
- Junked Vehicle Receipt and Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred.
- Vehicle Returned to Dealer: Letter from dealer acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Charitable Donation: Letter from Charity acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Active Duty Non-Resident Military: Legal Residence Form from paymaster's office.
When your excise tax abatement is processed you will receive an Abatement Certificate from the Board of Assessors. If a refund is due, a check will follow from the Collector.
For questions about vehicle registration information or vehicle valuation, call the Registry of Motor Vehicles Excise Tax Correction Bureau at 617-351-9380 or visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles online to change your address or get general information.
- Who qualifies for a motor vehicle excise exemption?
A single motor vehicle owned and registered for the personal, non-commercial use of the following persons is exempt from the motor vehicle excise tax.
Veterans who have a service-connected disability as certified by the Veterans Administration, of permanent loss of use of one or both feet or one or both hands, or permanent impairment of vision of one or both eyes.
Persons who have suffered loss or permanent loss of use of both legs or both arms, or impairment of vision of both eyes.
Persons must own and register vehicles for their own personal use and must submit either a certificate from the Division of the Blind or a physician's letter. Exemption applications must be filed annually and submitted with supporting documents if necessary in future years.
- I just bought property this year, why is the prior owner still on the tax bill?
Property tax assessments are billed for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1rst with an effective date of January 1rst. This means that the owner as of January 1rst should appear on the tax bill. However, as the current owner, you should still pay the tax bill before the due date to avoid interest from being assessed and a tax lien being placed on the property.
- How is my assessed value determined each year?
Beginning January 1rst, the Board of Assessors will determine the fair market value each year using a process called mass appraisal, which is the valuation of many properties as of a given date using standard procedures and statistical testing. Property sales in a given period are analyzed by grouping property characteristics that are important in determining market value, developing reasonable value adjustments for the property characteristics, statistically testing a model then applying the resulting estimates of value to all properties. For example, you may own a residential call parcel. This type of land within the residential class would be assessed using mass appraisal techniques by analyzing sales of this type to develop value estimates. When there are few sales of a particular type of property, sales from other communities are examined. Assessment quality standards established by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue must be met annually in order to set the tax rate.
- Why won't the town send my tax bill directly to my bank or mortgage company?
The Assessor's billing address information is used by all Town departments for official notification of zoning changes, appeals, and other items of significance to property owners. In addition, since mortgages are regularly bought and sold, this would increase the chance of a bill being sent to the incorrect party delaying payment, and incurring interest charges. If your property taxes are held in escrow, simply send a copy of the bill to the mortgage company when you receive it, retaining a copy for your records.