The Division of Local Services (DLS) issues legal opinions on municipal tax and finance issues in response to written requests from local officials and others. This section allows access to selected DLS opinions that may be of general interest to local officials, municipal counsel and others interested in municipal tax and finance. Opinions are indexed by topics and legal citation (statutes, regulations and cases). Click on the opinion number found in the index to find a brief summary of the opinion, which will appear at the top of the page. You can then click on the number in the summary to view the document. To read the information contained in the document you must have a free Adobe Acrobat Reader Version

TOPICAL INDEX

For Legal Citation Index (Statutes, Regulations and Cases)

 


Abatements (Property Taxes)

 
 
Application Deadline - Postmark Rule

2007-42
 

Brownfields


EM2006-1072

 
Information Requests

2006-164 ; 2006-351

 
Jurisdiction - Charitable Return

2006-67

 
Jurisdiction - Personal Property Return

2005-27
 
Refunds

2006-346

 
Senior Tax Work-off

2005-53
 
 
 

Accounting Policies/Procedures

 
 
Estimated Receipts

2004-528
 
Fees

2004-528
 
Fees - Refunds

2009-792
 
Offset Receipts

2004-528
 
Receipts Reserved for Appropriation

2008-993
 
Revolving Fund

2004-528 ; 2005-14
 
 
 

Agricultural and Horticultural Land (Classified)

 

 

Gross Sales

2006-78

 

Roll Back Tax - Fair Cash Valuation

2006-314

 

Uses - Animal Feed

2006-78

 

Uses - Horse Boarding/Riding

2006-78

 

 

 

Anti-aid Amendment

 

 

Grants to Non-profits

2006-75

 
Historic Preservation Restriction

2006-230

 

 

 

Appropriations

 

 
Contingent - Proposition 2½ Question

2009-1423

 

Public Purposes - Private Ways

2006-144

 

Transfers - Excess Bond Proceeds

2006-52

 

 

 

Assessment Administration

 

 

Affordable Housing

2005-87 ; 2006-111

 

Condominiums - Common Area Lease

2006-95

 

Deeds - Acreage

2005-448

 

Information Requests

2006-164 ; 2006-351: 2009-848

 

Inspections

2006-164 ; 2006-351

 

Mobile/Manufactured Homes

2009-1019; 2009-1300

 

Owners - Unknown

2006-174

 

Parcels - Contiguous Lots

2006-105

 

Parcels - Unknown Location

2006-174

 

Present Interest

2006-63

 

Pro-forma Tax

2009-986-1

 

 

Reassessments

2006-305

 


Records - Disclosure to Municipal Officials


2009-848
 
 
 

Betterments and Special Assessments
 
 
Abatement - Change in Use

2005-44
 
Permanent Privileges

2005-44
 
Sewer Assessments

2005-44 ; 2009-756 ; 2009-756-2
 
 
 

Borrowing

 

 
Authority under Special Acts

2008-811

 

Community Preservation

2006-50

 

Excess Bond Proceeds

2006-52

 
Interfund

2006-51

 

 

 


Budgets

 
 
Interdepartmental Transfers- Approval of Department

2005-28
 
 

 

Charitable Organizations

 

 

Affordable Housing

2006-111

 

Annual Return (Form 3ABC)

2006-67

 

Commercial Purposes

2006-37

 
Eligibility Date

2008-937

 

Employee Housing

2005-255 ; 2006-37

 
Exemption Requirements

2009-1076

 

Grants

2006-75

 
Health Care Providers

2009-1071

 

Jurisdiction

2006-67

 

Occupancy

2006-37: 2009-963

 

Open Space/Vacant Land

2005-406; 2006-296: 2009-963

 
Organizational Form - Limited Liability Company

2008-937
 
Private Inurement

2009-1071
 

Public Access

2009-963

 
Purposes - Traditionally Charitable

2009-1076

 

Social Purposes

2006-37

 

Wildlife Refuse

2009-963

 
 
 

Classification and Taxation by Use
 
 
Former Church

2009-986-2

 
 

Collection

 

 
Attorney Fees

2009-1532
 
Demands - Fixed Fee

2009-68
 
Fees/Charges

2009-68

 

Interest - Misaddressed Tax Bill

2006-423

 
Tax Titles - Proceeds

2009-1532
 

Uncollectible - Personal Property Taxes


2005-489

 

 

 

Community Preservation Act

 

 
Administrative/Operating Expenses -Membership Dues

2006-412

 

Exemption Applications

2006-22 ; 2006-44

 

Borrowing - Limits

2006-50

 

Borrowing - Use for Interfund


2006-51

 

Fund Revenues - Rental Income

2006-177

 

Fund Revenues - Sales Income

2006-177

 
Fund Uses - Community Housing

2006-230
 
Fund Uses - Invasive Weed Eradication

2004-530
 
Fund Uses - Recreational Use

2006-230 ; 2007-292
 
Fund Uses - Rehabilitation of Private Property

2006-230

 

Implementation Expenses

2006-371

 
Preservation - Invasive Weed Eradication

2004-530
 
Recreation Use - Commercial Canoe and Kayak Rentals

2007-292
 
Revocation

2009-872

 

State Matching Funds

2006-410

 
Support - Down Payment Assistance

2006-230

 

 

 

Condominiums

 

 

Common Area - Leased Space

2006-95

 

 

 


Corporations

 
 
Taxation - Personal Property

2009-1529
 
 

 

Counties

 
 
Charter Commission - Funding

EM2007-33
 
 

 

Debt Exclusions

 

 

Duration

2006-96

 

Excess Bond Proceeds

2006-52

 

Water/Sewer Debt Shift

2005-482 ; 2006-79

 

 

 

Deeds

 

 

Acreage

2005-448

 

Agricultural Restrictions


2009-1302
 
Right of First Refusal

2009-1302
 
 
 

Deferrals
 
 
Deferral and Recovery Agreement - Approval of Mortgagee

2010-13
 
 

 

Deficits
 
 
Snow and Ice Removal

2007-335
 
 
 

Department Revolving Fund

 
 
Mid-year Authorization

2005-14
 
Revenues-New

2005-14
  
 

Disclosure of Records
 
 
Abatement Applications

2009-848
 
Abatement Information Requests

2009-848
 
Exemption Applications

2009-848
 
Pre-assessment Information Requests

2009-848
 
Small Business List

2009-848

 
 

Districts

 

 

Investments

2006-03

 

Payments in Lieu of Taxes

2006-408

 

 

 


Domicile

 
 
Nursing Home Residency

2007-33
 
 

 

Employment Contracts

 
 
Benefits

2006-189
 
Multi-year

2006-189
 
 
 

Enterprise Funds

 

 
Recreational Facility

2004-528

 

Utility - Wireless Communications
Network

2006-33

 

 

 

Exemptions (Property Taxes)

 

 

Charitable

2005-255 ; 2006-37 ; 2006-67 ; 2006-111; 2006-296; 2009-963; 2009-1076

 
Charitable - Organizational Form

2008-937
 
Charitable - Private Inurement

2009-1071
 
Domicile - Nursing Home Residency

2007-33

 

Gross Receipts - Taxable Income

2006-122

 

House of Worship

2006-69

 
Military Bases - Private Lessees

2005-354
 
Mobile/Manufactured Homes

2009-1019 ; 2009-1300

 

Optional Additional

EM2006-935

 
Ownership - Life Tenant

2005-243
 
Ownership - Co-owner with Non-spouse

2005-13
 
Parsonage

2009-873
 
Personal Property - Corporations

2009-1529

 

Religious Organization

2006-69 ; 2009-873

 

Sale of Property

2006-346; 2007-13

 

Seniors - Gross Receipts

2006-122

 
Solar/Wind Powered Heating Systems

2006-288

 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

2006-148 ; 2006-205; 2009-1042

 

Veterans - Incapable of Working


2006-425

 

Veterans - Paraplegic

2006-46

 

Veterans - Surviving Spouses

EM2006-935

 

Whole Estate - Joint Owner


2007-34

 

Whole Estate - Reverse Mortgage

2009-1069

 
 
 

Fees

 

 
Abatements

2009-792
 
Demand

2009-68

 

Extended School Services

2006-220

 
Mooring Fees

2005-22
 
Power to Impose

2005-22 ; 2009-792
 
Regulatory Fees

2005-22 ; 2009-792
 
Refunds

2009-792
 
Use of Municipal Facilities

2004-528

 

 

 


Financial Management
 
 
Budget Transfers

2005-28
 
Deficits - Snow and Ice Removal

2007-335
 
Interfund Borrowing - Community Preservation Funds

2006-51
 
Multi-year Contracts

2006-189
 
Spending without Appropriation

2008-993
 
 
 

Funds
 
 
Community Preservation Fund

2004-530 ; 2006-51 ; 2006-230 ; 2006-412 ; 2007-292
 
Departmental Revolving Fund

2004-528 ; 2005-14 ; 2006-345 ;
 
Enterprise Fund

2004-528 ; 2006-33 ;
 
Health Insurance Claims Trust

2009-943 ; 2010-62
 
Perpetual Care

2008-228
 
Receipts Reserved - Ambulance

2008-993
 
Sale of Cemetery Lots

2008-228
 
Schools - Extended School Services

2006-220

 

 

Grants
 
 
School Building Assistance

2009-1205
 
 
 

Gross Receipts

 

 

Taxable Income

2006-122

 

 

 


Health Insurance
 
 
Claims Trust Fund

2009-943 ; 2010-62
 
 
 

Health Insurance Claims Trust Fund
 
 
Payment of Insurance Premiums

2010-62
 
Premium Contribution Percentages

2009-943
 
Employer and Employee Contributions

2009-943
 
 
 

Home Rule

 

 

Taxation

2006-368

 

 

 

Information Requests

 

 

Abatements

2006-164 ; 2006-351 ; 2009-848

 

Pre-assessment

2006-164 ; 2006-351 ; 2009-848

 

 

 

Inspections

 

 

Consent

2006-164 ; 2006-351

 

 

 

Investments

 

 

Districts

2006-03

 

Municipal Bonds

2006-03

 

 

 

Light Departments

 

 

Unpaid Bills

2005-357

 

 

 


Local Employees and Officials
 
 
Employment Contracts - Multi-year

2006-189
 
 

 

Mobile/Manufactured Homes
 
 
Taxation as Real Estate

2009-1019 ; 2009-1300
 
 
 

Motor Vehicle Excise

 

 

Abatements

2006-43

 
Place of Garaging - Misrepresentation

2005-34
 
Place of Garaging - Other City/Town

2005-34
 
Recommital

2005-34

 

Special Plates - Farm

2006-43

 

 

 

Owners

 

 
Life Tenant

2005-243

 

Present Interest

2006-63

 

Unknown - Authorization

2006-174

 

 

 

Parcels

 

 

Contiguous Lots

2006-105

 

Unknown Location

2004-248; 2006-174

 

 

 

Partnerships

 

 

Corporate Partners

2006-118

 

Taxation - Personal Property

2006-118

 

 

 

Payments in Lieu of Taxes

 

 

Districts

2006-408

 

 

 

Personal Property

 

 
Annual Return

2005-27
 
Autotransformers

2009-834

 

Business Trusts

2006-406

 

Construction Equipment

2006-69

 
Construction Work in Progress

2009-834
 
Defunct Business

2005-489
 
Electric Utility

2009-834
 
From of List

2005-27

 

Garage Accessories

2006-69

 
Household Furniture/Effects - Domicile

2005-27
 
Machinery Used in Manufacture

2009-834

 

Partnerships

2006-118

 

Unincorporated Business

2006-69 ; 2006-118

 
Water Pumping Equipment

2009-1529

 

Wind Farm - Turbines, Towers & Control Building

2009-1042

 
 
 

Pro Rata Tax
 
 
Assessment Deadline

2009-986-2
 
 
 

Proposition 2½

 

 
Contingent Appropriation - Same Purpose as Ballot Question

2009-1423

 

Debt Exclusion - Duration

2006-96

 

Debt Exclusion - Excess Bond Proceeds

2006-52

 

Debt Exclusion Scope- Scaled Back Project


2008-982

 

Water/Sewer Debt Shift

2005-482 ; 2006-79

 

 

 

Public Funds

 

 

Grants to Non-profits

2006-75

 

Investment

2006-03

 

Public Purposes

2006-144

 

 

 

Public Property

 

 
Occupancy - Charitable Organization

2005-57

 

Payments in Lieu of Taxes

2006-408

 

Taxation - Non-public use

2005-57; 2006-63

 

 

 

Public Purposes

 

 

Grants to Non-profits

2006-75

 

Private Ways

2006-144

 

 

 

Public Records

 

 
Assessing Records

2009-848

 

Electronic Records

2006-260

 

Personal Data

2006-22

 

Tax Commitments

2006-260

 

Tax Returns

2006-22

 

 

 

Reassessments

 

 

Wrong Owner

2006-305

 

 

 

Recreational Land (Classified)

 

 
Contiguous Land - Separation by Way

2006-353
 
Minimum Acreage - Separation by Way

2006-353
 
Minimum Acreage - Tideland

2006-353

 

Uses - Boarding/Riding Stable

2006-78

 

 

 

Refunds

 

 

Exemptions - Sale of Property

2006-346

 

 

 


Religious Organizations
 
 
House of Worship

2006-69 ; 2009-873
 
Parsonage

2009-873
 
 
 

Revolving Funds

 

 

Departmental - Extended School Services

2006-345

 

Departmental - Fees for Use of Municipal Facilities


2004-528

 
Departmental - New Revenues

2005-14
 
 

 

School Building Assistance Grants
 
 
Allowable Spending Purposes

2009-1205
 
 
 

Schools

 

 

Fees - Extended School Services

2006-220

 

Funds - Extended School Services

2006-220 ; 2006-345

 

Grants - School Building Assistance

2009-1205

 
 
 

Senior Tax Work-off

 
 
Sale of Property

2005-53
 
 

 

Sewer Assessments
 
 
Abatement - Change in Use

2005-44
 
Sewer System Capacity

2009-756 ; 2009-756-2
 
 
 

Snow and Ice Removal
 
 
Deficits

2007-335
 
 
 

Tax Agreements

 

 

Brownfields

EM2006-1072

 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

2009-1042

 
 
 

Tax Bills

 

 

Misaddressed

2006-423

 

 

 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Exemptions

 

 

Approval - Districts

2006-148

 

Valuation


2006-205

 

Wind Farm - Turbines, Towers & Control Building

2009-1042

 
 
 

Tax Possessions

 

 

Occupancy - Post-foreclosure

2006-63

 

 

 


Tax Titles

 
 
Attorney Fees

2009-1532
 
Parcels - Unknown Location

2004-248
 
 

 

Trusts

 

 

Business

2004-406

 

 

 

Unpaid Bills

 

 

Light Department

2005-357

 

 

 

Valuation

 

 

Affordable Housing

2005-87 ; 2006-111

 
Agricultural Restrictions

2009-1302
 
Right of First Refusal

2009-1302

 

Roll-back Taxes

2006-314

 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

2006-205

 

 

 

Veterans

 

 
Apportionment for Co-owner

2007-13
 
Domicile - Title in Spouse

2005-13
 
Incapable of Working - Earned Income

2006-425

 

Paraplegic

2006-46

 
Proof of Disability

2005-13

 

Surviving Spouses

EM2006-935

 
 
 

Whole Estate
 
 
Joint Owner - Guardian

2007-34
 
Reverse Mortgage

2009-1069
 
 
 


 

 



 

LEGAL CITATION INDEX (STATUTES, REGULATIONS AND CASES)

 


Massachusetts Constitution
 

Mass. Const. Pt. II, c.1, § 1, art. 4 (Taxation)

2006-368

Mass. Const. Art. 89, § 7 (Home Rule)

2006-368

Mass. Const. Art. 18 (Anti-aid)

2006-75

Mass. Const. Art. 46 (Anti-aid)

2006-75

Mass. Const. Art. 103 (Anti-aid)

2006-75


 
 

Massachusetts General Laws
 

G.L. c. 4, § 7(26)(c)

2006-22


G.L. c. 4, § 8


2008-811

G.L. c. 12, § 8F

2006-67

G.L. c. 21E, § 2

EM2006-1072

G.L. c. 23A, § 3E

2006-148 ; 2006-205

G.L. c. 32B, § 3A

2009-943: 2010-62

G.L. c. 32B, § 7

2009-943

G.L. c. 32B, § 7A

2009-943


G.L. c. 34A, § 9


EM2007-33

G.L. c. 40, § 5F


2008-993

G.L. c. 40, § 6N

2006-144


G.L. c. 40, § 22F


2005-22

G.L. c. 40, § 59

2006-148 ; 2006-205: 2009-1042


G.L. c. 41, § 21A


2006-189

G.L. c. 41, § 35

2006-03

G.L. c. 41, § 81U

2006-144


G.L. c. 41, § 108


2006-189

G.L. c. 41, § 108A


2006-189

G.L. c. 41, § 108N


2006-189

G.L. c. 41, § 108O


2006-189

G.L. c. 41, § 121

2006-03


G.L. c. 44, § 2


2008-811

G.L. c. 44, § 6A

2009-1205


G.L. c. 44, § 7


2008-811

G.L. c. 44, § 8


2008-811

G.L. c. 44, § 10


2008-811

G.L. c. 44, § 20

2006-52


G.L. c. 44, § 20A


2006-51

G.L. c. 44, § 31


2008-993

G.L. c. 44, § 31D


2007-335

G.L. c. 44, § 32


2005-28

G.L. c. 44, § 33


2005-28

G.L. c. 44, § 33B


2005-28

G.L. c. 44, § 53

2006-177

G.L. c. 44, § 53A

2009-1205

G.L. c. 44, § 53B

2009-1205


G.L. c. 44, § 53E


2004-528

G.L. c. 44, § 53E½

2004-528 ; 2005-14 ; 2006-345

G.L. c. 44, § 53F½

2004-528 ; 2006-33 ; 2009-756-2


G.L. c. 44, § 53G


2009-792

G.L. c. 44, § 55

2006-03

G.L. c. 44, § 64

2005-357


G.L. c. 44B, § 2


2007-292

G.L. c. 44B, § 3

2006-22 ; 2006-44; 2006-230


G.L. c. 44B, § 5(b)(2)


2004-530 ; 2007-292

G.L. c. 44B, § 6

2006-371; 2006-412

G.L. c. 44B, § 7

2006-177 ; 2006-371

G.L. c. 44B, § 9

2006-410

G.L. c. 44B, § 11

2006-50

G.L. c. 44B, § 16(b)

2009-872


G.L. c. 48, § 42


2008-993

G.L. c. 58, § 2

2006-69 ; 2006-118

G.L. c. 58, § 8

2006-46 ; 2006-174 ; 2006-305

G.L. c. 58, § 8A

2006-46

G.L. c. 59, § 2A(a)

2009-1019; 2009-1042; 2009-1300

G.L. c. 59, § 2A(b)

2009-986-2

G.L. c. 59, § 2B

2005-57; 2006-63

G.L. c. 59, § 2C

2009-986-1

G.L. c. 59, § 5

2005-243; 2006-346; 2007-33


G.L. c. 59, § 5(1)


2005-354

G.L. c. 59, § 5(3)

2005-255 ; 2005-406 ; 2006-37 ; 2006-67 ; 2006-111 ;; 2006-296 2008-937 ; 2009-963 ; 2009-1071 : 2009-1076

G.L. c. 59, § 5(10)

2006-69

G.L. c. 59, § 5(11)

2006-69 ; 2009-873

G.L. c. 59, § 5(16)

2006-118 ; 2009-1529


G.L. c. 59, § 5(17D)


2005-13

G.L. c. 59, § 5(16)(1)


2009-834

G.L. c. 59, § 5(20)

2005-27; 2006-69

G.L. c. 59, § 5(22)

2005-13; 2006-46

G.L. c. 59, § 5(22D)

EM2006-935


G.L. c. 59, § 5(22E)


2006-425 ; 2007-13

G.L. c. 59, § 5(36)

2009-1019 ; 2009-1300

G.L. c. 59, § 5(41)

2006-122

G.L. c. 59, § 5(41A)

2006-122; 2010-13

G.L. c. 59, § 5(41B)

2006-122

G.L. c. 59, § 5(41C)

2005-13; 2006-122; 2007-34

G.L. c. 59, § 5(41C½ )

2006-122


G.L. c. 59, § 5(45)


2006-288

G.L. c. 59, § 5(51)

2006-148 ; 2006-205; 2009-1042

G.L. c. 59, § 5D

2006-408

G.L. c. 59, § 5E

2006-408

G.L. c. 59, § 5F

2006-408


G.L. c. 59, § 5K


2005-53

G.L. c. 59, § 11

2005-448 ; 2006-63 ; 2006-105 ; 2006-174 ; 2006-305; 2008-937


G.L. c. 59, § 18


2009-1529

G.L. c. 59, § 18(1)

2004-406 ; 2006-118

G.L. c. 59, § 18(6)

2006-118

G.L. c. 59, § 21C(k)

2006-52 ; 2006-96; 2008-982

G.L. c. 59, § 21C(m)

2009-1423

G.L. c. 59, § 21C(n)

2005-482 ; 2006-79


G.L. c. 59, § 23


2009-1532

G.L. c. 59, § 29

2005-27; 2006-67

G.L. c. 59, § 38

2005-87 ; 2006-111; 2009-1302

G.L. c. 59, § 38D

2006-164 ; 2006-351 ; 2009-848

G.L. c. 59, § 38E

2006-164 ; 2006-351

G.L. c. 59, § 52B

2009-848

G.L. c. 59, § 57

2006-423

G.L. c. 59, § 57C

2006-423


G.L. c. 59. § 59


2007-42

G.L. c. 59. § 59A

EM2006-1072

G.L. c. 59. § 60

2009-848


G.L. c. 59. § 61


2005-27

G.L. c. 59, § 61A

2006-164 ; 2006-351 ; 2009-848

G.L. c. 59, § 69

2006-346


G.L. c. 59, § 71


2005-489

G.L. c. 59, § 77

2006-305

G.L. c. 60, § 3

2006-423

G.L. c. 60, § 6

2006-260

G.L. c. 60, § 15

2006-423: 2009-68

G.L. c. 60, § 37

2006-305


G.L. c. 60, § 50B


2009-1532

G.L. c. 60, § 79

2006-174 ; 2009-1532

G.L. c. 60A, § 1

2006-43


G.L. c. 60A, § 2


2005-34

G.L. c. 61A, § 1

2006-78

G.L. c. 61A, § 3

2006-78

G.L. c. 61A, § 4

2006-78

G.L. c. 61A, § 13

2006-314

G.L. c. 61B, §1

2006-78; 2006-353

G.L. c. 62, § 17

2006-118

G.L. c. 63, § 30

2006-118


G.L. c. 63, § 30(8)


2009-1529

G.L. c. 63, § 32

2006-118

G.L. c. 63, § 39

2006-118

G.L. c. 71, § 26A

2006-220 ; 2006-345

G.L. c. 71, § 26B

2006-220 ; 2006-345

G.L. c. 71, § 26C

2006-220 ; 2006-345


G.L. c. 80, § 5


2005-44

G.L. c. 83, § 14


2009-756

G.L. c. 83, § 15


2005-44 ; 2009-756

G.L. c. 83, § 15A


2009-756-2

G.L. c. 83, § 16


2009-756-2


G.L. c. 83, § 17


2005-44 ; 2009-756-2

G.L. c. 90, § 3½

2006-22

G.L. c. 90, § 5

2006-43


G.L. c. 91, § 10A


2005-22

G.L. c.108A, § 8

2006-118

G.L. c.108A, § 15

2006-118

G.L. c.108A, § 25

2006-118


G.L. c.114, § 15


2008-228

G.L. c.114, § 25


2008-228

G.L. c.150E, § 7


2006-189

G.L. c.151A, § 64A

2009-848

G.L. c. 164, § 56

2005-357

G.L. c. 164, § 57

2005-357

G.L. c. 164, § 57A

2005-357

G.L. c. 182, § 2

2004-406

G.L. c. 183A, § 14

2006-95


G.L. c. 184, § 23


2009-1302

G.L. c. 184, § 27


2009-1302

 
 

Massachusetts Session Laws
 

St. 1986, c. 73, § 4

EM2006-935


 
 

Federal Laws
 

10 U.S.C. § 2878

2005-354

 

 

Court and Appellate Tax Board Cases
 

Berry v. Danvers, 34 Mass. App. Ct. 507, 511 (1993)

2009-756-2

Board of Assessors of Melrose v. Driscoll, 370 Mass. 443 (1976)

2006-425

Boston v. Boston Port Development, Co., 308 Mass. 72 (1941)

2006-105


Breare v. Board of
Assessors of Peabody, 350 Mass. 391 (1966)

2005-243

CFM Buckley/North v. Assessors of Greenfield, 453 Mass. 404 (2009)

2008-937

Children's Hospital Medical Center v. Board of Assessors of Boston, 388 Mass. 832 (1983)

2006-67


Ellis v. Board of Assessors of Acushnet, 358 Mass. 473(1970)

2009-1019 ; 2009-1300

Emerson College v. City of Boston, 391 Mass. 415 (1984)

2006-220


Lenox v. Oglesby, 311 Mass. 269 (1942)


2006-105; 2006-353


Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Corp. v. Board of Assessors of Framingham, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 701 (2009)

2009-1076

Michaelson v. Silver Beach Association, 342 Mass. 251 (1961)

2006-353

Morton v. Hanover, 43 Mass. App. Ct. 197 (1997)

2009-756-2

Nashoba Communications Limited Partnership v. Board of Assessors of Danvers, 429 Mass. 126 (1999)

2006-118


New Habitat, Inc. v. Tax Collector of Cambridge, 451 Mass. 729 (2008)

2009-1076

Stepan Chemical Co. v. Wilmington, 8 Mass. App. Ct. 870 (1979)
 

2005-44

Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. v. Urstadt Biddle Properties, Inc., 433 Mass. 285 (2001)

2009-1302

Southview Co-operative Housing Corporation & others vs. Rent Control Board of Cambridge, 396 Mass. 395 (1985)

2009-792

Spring v. Hollander, 261 Mass. 373 (1927)

2005-243

Town of Franklin v. Metcalfe, 307 Mass. 386(1940)

2006-353

 
 

Agency Regulations\Guidlines\Rulings
 

Supervisor of Public Records (SPR) Opinion 01-692 (July 22, 2002)


2006-22


DOR Letter Ruling (LR) 81-107

2006-288

Informational Guidelines Release No. 06-101, Guidelines for the Application of School Building Assistance Grants

2009-1205
 

OPINION SUMMARIES

 

(7/31/2009 or last revision date)

2004-248 pdf format of    2004_248.pdf  - Assessors should attempt to identify properties of unknown locations placed in tax title. While lack of detail about the legal description or other location may preclude foreclosure of the rights of redemption, the municipality may be able to bring a legal action to collect against the assessed owners depending on the age of the taxes. If the assessors determine that the properties do not exist, they should request authority to abate from the Department of Revenue under G.L. c. 58, § 8. (2/15/2005)

2004-406 pdf format of    2004_406.pdf  - Massachusetts business trusts are subject to local property tax on their tangible personal property including business equipment, office machinery, inventory, furniture and fixtures. No personal property tax exemptions apply to business trusts. However, because Massachusetts business trusts typically are formed as holding companies to hold the shares of operating subsidiaries, they tend to have little in the way of personal property items. (1/12/2006)

2004-528 pdf format of    2004_528.pdf  - Charges to individuals or groups for temporary rental of municipal facilities (senior center, recreational and community center) may be treated as general fund estimated receipts, offset receipts or departmental revolving fund receipts. Charges would be in the nature of a user fee charged to cover the utility, custodial and other expenses incurred in making the facility available for private use, rather than a rental payment under a lease. In case of the recreational facility, town may also establish enterprise fund. The receipts are not gifts since they are paid in exchange for a particularized benefit. (1/11/2005)

2004-530 pdf format of    2004_530.pdf  - Expenditure of CPA funds to eliminate an invasive reed that disrupts water flow into a local pond may be allowable "preservation" of land not acquired with CPA money if the eradication project is necessary to protect the pond or the surrounding lands in a natural state. (1/7/2005)

2005-13 pdf format of    2005_13.pdf   - A senior who co-owns her domicile with her children is only entitled to an exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 41C in proportion to her interest, provided that the co-owners gross receipts and whole estate do not disqualify her. A surviving spouse who co-owns her domicile with her children is entitled to a full exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 17D provided she meets the whole estate requirement. Veterans who receive an exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 22(a) do not need to file a new certificate of disability every year, unless his or her disability rating is reduced below 10%. A spouse of a qualified veteran who is the sole owner of the house in which the veteran is domiciled qualifies for an exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 22(d). (2/23/2005)

2005-14 pdf format of    2005_14.pdf   - If a town department begins a new fee-based program, or begins charging a fee for an existing program or service, after annual town meeting, those receipts can be used to establish a departmental revolving fund if the monies were not used in establishing the tax rate. The fund may be credited with all receipts collected during that year, not just those collected after the town meeting authorization vote becomes effective. (2/3/2005)

2005-22 pdf format of    2005_22.pdf   - The power to set mooring fees under G.L. c. 91, § 10A is vested in a city or town or whoever is authorized by the city or town. Depending on the charter, a special act or the municipality's acceptance of local option G.L. c. 40, § 22F, the harbormaster or other official may have authority to impose fee without approval of the legislative body. (2/4/2005)

2005-27 pdf format of    2005_27.pdf   - A person is exempt from local personal property taxes on household furniture and effects at his or her domicile, but not at any other residence. Owners of taxable personal property subject to tax must submit a "true list" to the assessors on or before March 1. Failure to file a return results in loss of a right to any abatement. However, the assessors may be able to grant a reduced abatement to a taxpayer who failed to timely file the "true list" abatement, but submits the list and an explanation for the delay. (2/2/2005)

2005-28 pdf format of    2005_28.pdf   - A town council's transfer of monies from the unencumbered balance of the school budget to another department's budget is not prohibited by the requirement of G.L. c. 44, § 33B that interdepartmental transfers require approval of the department from which the funds are transferred. The town is constitutionally a city, but its charter establishes an allocation of budgetary powers distinct from those established under the general laws for cities with a mayor and council form of government, and presumably to cities with city managers, who have the budgetary powers of mayors under G.L. c. 44, §§ 32, 33 and 33B, i.e., have nearly absolute power to limit appropriations for any purposes. (2/7/2005)

2005-34 pdf format of    2005_34.pdf   - Generally, assessors should assess motor vehicle excises based on billing information received from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). However, where the RMV includes in a community's excise commitment bills for registrants who have mailing addresses in that community due to the way the post office assigns zip codes, but who actually live and garage their vehicles an another community, the assessors should recommit the excises to the assessors of that community and notify the RMV so that future bills will be properly directed. If assessors also believe registrants misrepresented the place of garaging on their registration, the assessors should notify the RMV and local law enforcement. Registrants can be fined for doing so. (2/18/2005)

2005-44 pdf format of    2005_44.pdf   - The sewer commissioners have no jurisdiction or grounds for abating a sewer assessment made on a developable lot in a residential subdivision seven years ago based on a later designation of that parcel as open space. The sewer commissioners do not have jurisdiction to abate since the deadline for applying has long passed, G.L. c. 80, §5, and the assessment is a property tax, which is assessed at a fixed point in time. Nor may a parcel in the same subdivision originally designated as open space and subsequently developed now be assessed if the sewer commissioners made a substantive decision at the time the assessments were originally made that the lot was not benefited due to a conservation or other legal restriction on its development potential. The town's sewer assessment by-law may authorize a permanent privilege for vacant land parcels not originally assessed, although those provisions generally apply to land considered developable at the time assessments were made, but for a wide range of uses making calculation of the benefit difficult until development occurred. (2/25/2005)

2005-53 pdf format of    2005-53.pdf   - If a community adopts the local option senior tax work-off abatement program, G.L. c. 59 §5K, then the amount earned by volunteer services to the town must be paid exclusively in the form of an abatement shown on the senior's actual tax bill. Therefore, if seniors who have earned abatements for a fiscal year sell their homes before receiving their actual tax bills for that year, they must ensure they receive the benefit of that abatement in the tax allocation agreement made with the buyer at the closing. (2/28/2005)

2005-57 pdf format of    2005_57.pdf   - A research building and parking garage constructed on land owned and leased by a state educational institution to a non-profit corporation, whose sole member is the institution and which operates exclusively for one of its schools, and then leased back to the institution after the corporation constructed the building and garage, is not taxable to the corporation under G.L. c. 59, § 2B. The institution is the actual occupant of the structures and land and its occupancy is for public purposes. Moreover, even if the corporation was considered the lessee/occupant, it is organized for charitable and educational purposes and functions as an instrumentality of the institution. Since the organization would be exempt under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3 if it owned and occupied the property, it is not taxable under G.L. c. 59, § 2B. (2/28/2005)

2005-87 pdf format of    2005_87.pdf  - Privately imposed affordable housing restrictions that limit resale and rental on a property should probably be considered by the assessors in determining the fair market value of the property. There are no Massachusetts statutes or cases that define what constitutes the property value subject to tax when there are private, voluntary, contractual affordable housing restrictions in deeds, leases or other agreements. However, Massachusetts courts have given substantial weight to the important public policy advanced by government sponsored housing assistance programs. Thus, the trend in other states and Massachusetts appears to be to take affordable housing restrictions affecting the right to benefit from a property into account in assessing value. (6/1/2006)

2005-243 pdf format of    2005_243.pdf  - An estate that terminates upon the death of individuals, or upon their use of the property they reside as their primary personal residence, whichever occurs first, gives them a present possessory interest in the property with the characteristics of a legal life estate and is sufficient to qualify them for exemption. (2/28/2006)

2005-255 pdf format of    2005_255.pdf  - Residential property used by a charitable corporation to house its personnel is not exempt from taxation under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3 where the housing is provided primarily for personal convenience or private benefit. In order for residential property to be exempt, the personnel residing there must pay little or no rent, live there as a condition of their employment, and use the property as a residence only because it is necessary for the operation of the charity. (2/28/2006)

2005-354 pdf format of    2005_354.pdf  - Military family housing built and operated by a private developer on leased land within Hanscom Air Force Base under the authority of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) most likely would not be subject to local property taxes. The MHPI contains no express authorization for states to tax in federal enclaves and therefore, the intent may have been to foreclose state taxation of the private leasehold interests held by private developers under the program. (1/30/2007)

2005-357 pdf format of    2005_357.pdf  - Municipal light departments do not need the approval of the municipality to pay unpaid bills of a prior fiscal year from light department revenues. Although they need the approval of the municipality to borrow, they have the authority to spend their own revenues without appropriation by the legislative body. (1/3/2006)

2005-406 pdf format of    2005_406.pdf  - In order to qualify for the charitable tax exemption for open space, the owner must show that it is a charitable organization and it is actively using the property to further its charitable purposes. First, the dominant purposes and actual activities of the organization must be for the public good and benefit a relatively large class or indefinite group from among the public as opposed to providing specific benefits for a limited group. In addition, the organization must show that it is actively using its property to promote recreation, conservation, education or other charitable purposes. Simply preserving property in its natural state is not enough to satisfy the requirement of occupying the property. (1/24/2006)

2005-448 pdf format of    2005_448.pdf  - If there is a discrepancy in a deed between the land area stated and the area contained in the legal description, the description controls. The area stated in the deed, as a general matter, is merely descriptive of the land conveyed. The boundaries of the parcel as stated in the deed, or the courses, distances and lines set forth in any recorded plan referenced in the deed, establish the quantity of land conveyed. (1/4/2006)

2005-482 pdf format of    2005_482.pdf  - A city or town that adopts the optional "water/sewer" debt exclusion under Proposition 2½ is not required to shift the debt solely to residential taxpayers. Under that exclusion, a city or town may transfer the recovery of water and sewer debt service costs from user charges to the property tax levy. The city or town may "shift" (1) all of the water and sewer debt service, raising all property owners' taxes, and lowering total water and sewer charges correspondingly or (2) only the residential share of its water and sewer debt service, raising that amount of extra taxes only from residential property owners, and lowering residential water and sewer charges by a corresponding amount. (1/3/2006)

2005-489 pdf format of    2005_489.pdf  - Abatement authority from the Commissioner of Revenue under G.L. c. 58, § 8 is unnecessary where a taxpayer goes out of business. The tax is uncollectible due to absence or inability to pay and under G.L. c. 59, § 71, the assessors may abate upon certification by the collector. (1/3/2006)

2006-03 pdf format of    2006_03.pdf  - A tax-levying district may not invest general fund monies in municipal bonds under G.L. c. 44, § 55, which governs the investment of city, town and district funds. (1/25/2006)

2006-22 pdf format of    2006_22.pdf  - The income, medical expense, age and other information required to be included on an application for the Community Preservation Act surcharge exemption application for low income persons or low or moderate income seniors are directly related to the exemption eligibility standards established by the legislature. State and federal tax laws protect tax returns submitted to verify income from disclosure to others. In addition, the Supervisor of Public Records has ruled that certain other personal information on Community Preservation Act exemption applications is exempt from disclosure under the general privacy exemption of the state public records law. (2/1/2006)

2006-33 pdf format of    2006_33.pdf   - A municipality may establish an enterprise fund for a municipal wireless communications network that provides infrastructure to wireless telecommunications operations, but not services directly to the public. Characterizing the network as a "utility" goes beyond its traditional meaning, which typically includes facilities that provide services directly to the public. However, it is consistent with the purpose of enterprise fund accounting under G.L. c. 44, § 53F½. In addition, there are municipal services accounted for as enterprise funds, such as solid waste disposal, that involve facilities that are directly used only by licensed haulers and contractors, rather than by members of the public. (6/12/2006)

2006-37 pdf format of    2006_37.pdf  - A charitable organization that operates a bed and breakfast and rental facility for social events and meetings in a building it formerly used as a rest home for seniors must show that its current occupancy and use of the building furthers its charitable purposes in order to qualify for exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3. If a charitable owner occupies property for a combination of charitable and non-charitable activities, only the portion of the property occupied for charitable purposes is entitled to exemption. The organization's purposes include administration of an endowment fund to provide financial resources to facilities, associations and institutions that advance the health and welfare of the elderly and indigent. Its use of the building to host events sponsored by eldercare organizations and to provide services and space to senior organizations might be considered a use of the property for those purposes, but if the primary use of the property is as a bed and breakfast and rental facility, it would be occupied for commercial, not charitable, purposes. If a defined portion of the property is used by the organization as its administrative offices, i.e., as the place where records are stored and trustees or officers conduct the organization's business, that portion may qualify for exemption. The portion of the premises where the director lives would be exempt only if the assessors find that the primary use of the property is charitable and that the director's occupation of the property as a residence is necessary for the operation of the charity. (4/26/2006)

2006-43 pdf format of    2006_43.pdf  - A taxpayer who sells or trades a vehicle registered under a farm plate but not used exclusively for farm purposes may obtain an abatement of the motor vehicle excise assessed on the vehicle by presenting the assessors with documentation of the transfer of title ( i.e., the bill of sale or documentation showing the trade-in). The taxpayer must also remove the decal and return it to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or provide an affidavit to the Registry which is akin to a lost plate certificate, in order to cancel the registration. (5/22/2006)

2006-44 pdf format of    2006_44.pdf  - The assessors have an obligation to verify the income of applicants for a Community Preservation Act exemption application because that is one of the qualifications for exemption established by the legislature. An application form that allowed taxpayers to self-certify eligibility would not be sufficient. (4/3/2006)

2006-46 pdf format of    2006_46.pdf  - There is no specific property tax exemption for paraplegic veterans. However, a veteran, who can provide the assessors with the required documentation, is entitled to an exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 22(a) as a veteran with a minimum 10% service-connected disability. The Commissioner of Revenue then authorizes the assessors to abate the remainder of the unpaid taxes under G.L. c. 58, § 8.(2/23/2006)

2006-50 pdf format of    2006_50.pdf  - The amount of debt that a municipality may authorize under the Community Preservation Act is limited in amount to that payable from estimated surcharge revenues over the life of the borrowings. (3/6/2006)

2006-51 pdf format of    2006_51.pdf   - In the absence of a by-law directing that Community Preservation Committee recommendations correspond to certain percentages of funding for historic preservation, affordable housing, and open space, the allocation of funds above the minimum required percentage is decided by legislative body action on committee recommended projects and initiatives. Community Preservation Funds cannot be used for interfund borrowing given their restricted character. (2/28/2006)

2006-52 pdf format of    2006_52.pdf  - Excess bond proceeds for a project that was the subject of a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion may be used for another debt-excluded project so long as the transfer of the proceeds is approved by vote of the legislative body under G.L. c. 44, § 20. The debt service attributable to the amount transferred may be excluded under the debt exclusion vote for the original project because of the amount involved and because both projects were funded with debt that was excluded from the municipality's levy limit. (3/30/2006)

2006-63 pdf format of    2006_63.pdf  - A person who lives in a property acquired by a community by tax title foreclosure and who has obtained a preliminary injunction prohibiting the sale of property by the municipality does not have a present interest in the property sufficient for the Commissioner of Revenue to authorize the assessors to assess that person under G.L. c. 59, § 11. However, the assessors may still assess the person who obtained the injunction. If the person ultimately succeeds in demonstrating ownership of the property, and has the tax title foreclosure vacated, the assessment would be based upon ownership of the property as a result of the judicial proceedings. If the person fails to establish title to the property, an assessment would be justified under G.L. c. 59, § 2B based upon occupancy of a municipal property for non-public purposes. (2/28/2006)

2006-67 pdf format of    2006_67.pdf  - Assessors do not have jurisdiction to grant a charitable exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3, where a charitable organization that owns property on January 1 for which it claims exemption for the fiscal year that begins on the following July 1 fails to timely file an annual return (Form 3ABC). (4/19/2006)

2006-69 pdf format of    2006_69.pdf  - Construction and excavating machinery owned by an individual and used in an unincorporated business as well as for personal use on the owner's property is not exempt as household furnishings or effects such as garage accessories. Further, a wedding chapel owned by a family and used for private business purposes is not entitled to the house of worship exemption. The exemption only applies to property owned by or held in trust for a religious organization. (3/3/2006)

2006-75 pdf format of    2006_75.pdf  - A municipality is barred by the Anti-aid Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution from giving grants to non-profit organizations to support their activities, but may compensate such organizations for services rendered to the municipality. Payment for any particular service must be made after the service is provided. (3/10/2006)

2006-78 pdf format of    2006_78.pdf  - Land used primarily for boarding or riding horses and the growing of hay or other feed for the boarded horses does not qualify as land actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural purposes for purposes of classification under G.L. c. 61A. The land must be used to raise animals or cultivate crops for the purpose of selling them or products derived from them in the regular course of business, as demonstrated by identified and reported regular sales meeting an annual gross receipts requirement. However, outdoor areas used primarily for horseback riding may qualify as recreational land under G.L. c. 61B provided that the other statutory requirements are met. (3/29/2006)

2006-79 pdf format of    2006_79.pdf  - A city or town that adopts the optional "water/sewer" debt exclusion under Proposition 2½ is not required to shift the debt solely to residential taxpayers. Under that exclusion, a city or town may transfer the recovery of water and sewer debt service costs from user charges to the property tax levy. The city or town may "shift" (1) all of the water and sewer debt service, raising all property owners' taxes, and lowering total water and sewer charges correspondingly or (2) only the residential share of its water and sewer debt service, raising that amount of extra taxes only from residential property owners, and lowering residential water and sewer charges by a corresponding amount. (3/13/2006)

2006-95 pdf format of    2006_95.pdf  - A cell tower located on rooftop space leased by a telecommunications company for that purpose may not be assessed separately because the leased space is part of the common area of commercial office condominium. Any real estate value associated with the lease should be included in the assessment of each condominium unit on a percentage basis. (5/2/2006)

2006-96 pdf format of    2006_96.pdf  - A municipality has a reasonable period of time to authorize the underlying borrowing for the project specified in an approved Proposition 2½ debt exclusion question without having to place another question before the voters. Unlike a levy limit override or capital expenditure exclusion question, a debt exclusion question does not specify the time period in which the additional levy capacity must first be used. However, the absence of a fixed time period in the statute does not mean that an approved exclusion lasts indefinitely. (3/22/2006)

2006-105 pdf format of    2006_105.pdf  - Two contiguous lots under common ownership may be assessed either separately or as one parcel. The assessors have discretion in that case because there is no general statutory definition of a parcel for property tax purposes. However, if zoning laws prohibit the division of the parcels by sale or otherwise, the better practice is to assess the lots as one parcel, because assessment as separate parcels would create separate liens, and the foreclosure of one lien would separate the ownership of the two lots. (5/18/2006)

2006-111 pdf format of    2006_111.pdf  - Providing living quarters to low-income seniors and making space available to the public for community events are considered charitable uses of property. However, where a charitable corporation rents dwelling units, the units are considered to be occupied by the tenants, not by the charitable corporation, and would not qualify for the charitable exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3. In determining the property's value, however, the assessors may be required to take into account any restrictions placed by governmental regulations on the amount that can be charged for rents. (5/18/2006)

2006-118 pdf format of    2006_118.pdf  - The personal property of a general partnership made up of two corporations is taxable locally notwithstanding that the general partnership has elected to be treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. Neither the partnership, nor the corporate partners are entitled to the corporate personal property tax exemptions. (8/31/2006)

2006-122 pdf format of    2006_122.pdf   - The gross receipts standard used to determine eligibility for senior property tax exemptions is a more expansive term than gross income for federal and state income tax law and includes all taxable and non-taxable income from whatever source derived. (4/12/2006)

2006-144 pdf format of    2006_144.pdf   - A municipality may appropriate funds to supplement the proceeds of a subdivision bond in order to bring certain private ways in the subdivision up to town standards before it accepts them as public ways. Expenditures for work on private ways may be a public purpose for which municipalities may appropriate money. (7/10/2006)

2006-148 pdf format of    2006_148.pdf  A tax increment financing (TIF) exemption agreement for parcels located in a tax levying district must be approved by the district as well as by the city or town under policies adopted by the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, which must approve the agreement. (5/8/2006)

2006-164 pdf format of    2006_164.pdf   - The assessors do not have statutory authority to inspect property for assessment purposes without the consent of the owner. However, the assessors have some pre-assessment and post-assessment statutory remedies available to them to secure the information needed to obtain or verify a property's physical characteristics for valuation purposes.(5/12/2006)

2006-174 pdf format of    2006_174.pdf   - No assessments should be made to parcels whose locations are completely unknown. Parcels may be assessed even if their boundaries are not known precisely, however. In addition, the assessors may, with the permission of the Commissioner of Revenue, assess to owners unknown those parcels whose location is known but whose ownership cannot be determined. (5/15/2006)

2006-177 pdf format of    2006_177.pdf   - Rental and sales income generated by use of properties acquired with community preservation fund monies belong to a municipality's general fund because that income does not come within the listed revenue items that belong to the community preservation fund under G.L. c. 44B, § 7. A disposal of real property for purposes of the revenues to be credited to the fund means the sale of the fee interest, not a lease requiring annual rental payments to the municipality. In addition, funds received for community preservation purposes to be credited to the fund means gifts, grants or donations from the state or other public or private sources given to further community preservation purposes, not sales of products derived from the properties. (5/22/2006)

2006-189 pdf format of    2006_189.pdf  - In general, municipalities may enter into binding multi-year employment contracts only as specifically authorized by statute. Absent statutory authority, the future years of the contract may only be binding if a sufficient appropriation is authorized to fund the cost items of the contract in those years. In addition, special statutory authority is needed to provide special benefits, such as retirement, health insurance, severance pay, and the like, that are different from those provided to other municipal employees under some other general law or municipal by-law or ordinance. (1/30/2007)

2006-205 pdf format of    2006_205.pdf  - Nothing in a tax increment financing (TIF) exemption agreement can alter the assessors' role in determining the full and fair cash value of a parcel subject to the agreement. However, the agreement does fix the percentage of the full and fair cash value of the property that is exempt each year during the term of the agreement. (5/30/2006)

2006-220 pdf format of    2006_220.pdf  - Fees or charges for participation in an extended school services program operated under G.L. c. 71, §§ 26A-26C must be calculated and used to offset the overall indirect and direct costs or expenses of providing the service, not to produce a surplus or profit in excess of program costs. Surpluses may not be transferred to other unrelated school programs. They are to be retained in the revolving account for subsequent extended school services program expenses. (8/28/2006)

2006-230 pdf format of    2006_230.pdf  - Appropriation to create affordable housing program for municipal employees and residents that includes acquisition of restriction in exchange for down payment assistance is an allowable Community Preservation Fund spending purpose under G.L. c. 44B, § 5(b)(2), but if no restriction is acquired to add to the municipality's affordable housing stock, then the expenditure would have to qualify as support of affordable housing to be allowable. The statute contemplates additions to affordable housing stock, but support is not defined and arguably it permits other types of housing support for qualifying individuals. An appropriation to acquire an historic preservation restriction in exchange for funds provided the Grange to rehabilitate the property is an allowable spending purpose. The statute does not prohibit the use of funds in connection with a privately owned property, but any expenditure must meet public purpose test under Anti-aid amendment to the state Constitution, which is advanced in this case by the publicly held restriction. An appropriation to clean-up a municipal pond and beach area long ago abandoned as a recreational site due to contamination of water qualifies as creation of recreational assets since the land is not currently used for recreation or as preservation of open space if the purpose is to prevent further harm to the water and viability of pond. (2/9/2007)

2006-260 pdf format of    2006_260.pdf  - A community does not need specific approval from the Department of Revenue to use computerized systems for billing, commitment or collection, but as for maintaining electronic commitments as permanent records, the collector should refer to the Records Management Unit of the Secretary of State for the standards that apply. (7/12/2006)

2006-288 pdf format of    2006_288.pdf  - Value of components of solar or wind powered system with sole purpose of heating or otherwise supplying the energy needs of taxable residential or commercial property is exempt from property taxation for 20 years from the date of installation. Any components that serve a dual purpose, such as having a significant structural function, are not exempt. Assessors must use their appraisal judgment to determine the value of the system and allocate the taxable and exempt portions of the system. (1/30/2007)

2006-296 pdf format of    2006_296.pdf  - Vacant land that is owned by a charitable organization, but is not used for any charitable purpose, is taxable. If the parcel is to qualify as exempt, the charitable organization must demonstrate that the parcel is directly and actively used in the performance or support of its charitable activities. (1/30/2007)

2006-305 pdf format of    2006_305.pdf  - Where a property in tax title is assessed to the wrong owner, the collector should disclaim the taking and the assessors should reassess the taxes to the proper owner. A new taking based on the valid assessment can be made for those years for which a lien still exists. (11/15/2006)

2006-314 pdf format of    2006_314.pdf  The valuation of a particular property for roll-back tax assessment purposes must be reflective of the valuation that the land would have received if valued in the same manner as other properties for those years. Thus, for each year, the assessors should maintain records of their valuation standards and methods and the application of those methods to classified properties. (11/15/2006)

2006-345 pdf format of    2006_345.pdf  - A municipality may operate "before and after school programs" using a departmental revolving fund under G.L. c. 44, § 53E½, or the special extended school service for children fund under G.L. c. 71, §§ 26B and 26C. The key differences are that the departmental revolving fund must be voted by the legislative body each year and has certain expenditure limitations. (11/10/2006)

 

2006-346 pdf format of    2006_346.pdf  - A taxpayer who qualifies for a personal exemption as of July 1, but then sells his domicile during the fiscal year is not entitled to a refund where there is an outstanding tax balance at the time the exemption is granted. The taxpayer and the buyer are responsible for allocating the tax at the closing to ensure that the appropriate party receives the benefit of the exemption. (10/30/2006)

2006-351 pdf format of    2006_351.pdf  - The assessors do not have statutory authority to inspect property for assessment purposes without the consent of the owner. However, the assessors have some statutory remedies available to them to secure the information needed to obtain or verify a property's physical characteristics for valuation purposes. (10/24/2006)

2006-353 pdf format of    2006_353.pdf  -Land directly across a public way should be considered as contiguous for purposes of satisfying the minimum five acre requirement for classified recreational land under G.L. c. 61B. In addition, privately owned tidal land to the low water mark may be included in the determination of the minimum acreage requirement. (1/24/2007)

2006-368 pdf format of    2006_368.pdf  - A municipality may not enact a by-law or ordinance that refunds the motor vehicle excise to owners of fuel efficient vehicles. Massachusetts cities and towns do not have home rule powers of taxation and therefore, they cannot alter taxation law through local ordinances or by-laws. Only the legislature may make changes in laws relating to municipal taxation and to authorize abatements and exemptions from local taxes. (10/23/2006)

2006-371 pdf format of    2006_371.pdf  - Community preservation fund monies cannot be used to pay for implementation expenses (indirect costs) incurred by general government departments such as the assessors, collector, treasurer, accounting officer, town counsel or others. Fund monies that may be used for administrative and operating expenses are limited to those incurred by the community preservation committee in carrying out its responsibilities. (10/23/2006)

2006-408 pdf format of    2006_408.pdf  - Cities, towns and districts that own real property in other municipalities or districts for specified public purposes are required to make annual payments in lieu of taxes to the host municipality. The property subject to an annual payment requirement and the method for determining the payment depends on the acquisition date. Payments on land acquired pre-1946 are governed by G.L. c. 59, §§ 5D and 5E and are limited to land acquired for water supply, watershed, sewer and public airport purposes. Payments on land acquired on or after January 1, 1946 are governed by G.L. c. 59, § 5F. It applies to properties acquired for any public purpose, but in the case of a district, the land must also be located in a city or town outside the district. (12/1/2006)

2006-410 pdf format of    2006_410.pdf  - Communities that accept the Community Preservation Act do not receive the annual "matching" distribution from the state trust fund in the first year in which they assess the surcharge. They receive their first distribution in the second fiscal year the Community Preservation Act is in effect. (12/1/2006)

2006-412 pdf format of    2006_412.pdf   - Community Preservation Fund monies may be used to pay a municipality's annual dues to a statewide organization that provides educational information on the Community Preservation Act and lobbies for it. The dues could be paid from the community preservation committee's annual administrative budget. Dues for similar national and statewide organizations a community might join are typically considered an annual operating expense of the municipal board, committee or department, most directly associated with the purposes of the organization. (2/20/2007)

2006-423 pdf format of    2006_423.pdf  - A property tax bill inexplicably mailed to a former address of a taxpayer, rather than the taxpayer's current residence, was not properly issued pursuant to G.L. c. 60, § 3 and, therefore, no interest charges should have accrued. A proper bill with the correct address must be issued in order for interest charges to accrue. (12/19/2006)

2006-425 pdf format of    2006_425.pdf  - A veteran who earns compensation for full or part time work by the receipt of any salary, wages or self-employment income does not meet the requirement of being "incapable of working" for an exemption under G.L. c. 59, §5, Clause 22E. (1/30/2007)

EM2006-935 pdf format of    EM2006_935.pdf  - A recipient of a $2,500 exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 22D as the surviving spouse of a servicemember who died as a proximate result of service in a war zone will receive a $5,000 exemption in years a municipality adopts an optional additional exemption of 100% under c. 73, § 4 of the Acts of 1986, provided that the application of the additional $2,500 does not reduce the taxpayer's tax liability below the prior year's tax on the property. (11/13/2006)

EM2006-1072 pdf format of    EM2006_1072.pdf  - No agreement to abate unpaid taxes under G.L. c. 59, § 59A may take effect for a brownfield parcel unless there is an official determination that there has been a release of oil or hazardous material that requires remediation at the parcel. The purpose of brownfield abatements under G.L. c. 59, § 59A is to promote the rehabilitation of parcels that are burdened with a combination of environmental and tax obligations that make their rehabilitation financially unfeasible. The abatements are not a general-purpose economic redevelopment tool for municipalities. (12/22/2006)

2007-13 pdf format of    2007_13.pdf  - A veteran's property tax exemption is not apportioned based on an agreement under a divorce decree between the veteran and co-owner former spouse as to the distribution of the proceeds from the sale of the property. (1/16/2007)

EM2007-33 pdf format of    EM2007_33.pdf  - Under G.L. c. 34A, § 9, the total amount that a county advisory board can appropriate for the use of a county charter commission is limited to 4/10 of 1% of the county budget. The initial contribution to be advanced by the treasurer within 20 days of the election of the commission, which does not require appropriation by the advisory board, is $35,000 or 1/10 of 1% of the county budget, whichever is less. The aggregate contribution, from the county, including appropriations by the advisory board, is five times the initial contribution, which would allow the advisory board to supplement the initial contribution by an amount up to $140,000, or 4/10 of 1% of the county budget, whichever is less. (2/12/2007)
 

2007-33 pdf format of    2007_33.pdf  - An applicant for a personal exemption, in this case a veteran exemption, must be domiciled in the home and his residency in a nursing home may not negate domicile, depending on the intent of the individual. If the taxpayer has not manifested the intent to abandon the domicile and the property is being kept up for his return or is not being used in some way inconsistent with his return, then the taxpayer may maintain the house as his domicile. The assessors must weigh all the evidence in determining domicile. (2/20/2007)

2007-34 pdf format of    2007_34.pdf  - In determining eligibility of an applicant for a senior exemption under Clause 41C, real estate other than her domicile that she jointly owns with her son for whom she is a guardian must be counted as part of her whole estate. (2/5/2007)

2007-42 pdf format of    2007_42.pdf  - The so-called "postmark rule" applies only if an abatement application is sent to the assessors, first class postage prepaid, through the U.S. Postal Service. In that case, the date of the postmark is deemed the date of filing. (2/26/2007)

2007-292 pdf format of    2007_292.pdf  - Commercial canoe and kayak rental and storage operations that are an amenity to a water based park being developed using Community Preservation Fund monies are not inconsistent with the "recreational use" of land for purposes of the Community Preservation Act. The Act promotes outdoor recreational pursuits which take place on open land in a relatively natural state. (1/16/2009)

2007-335 pdf format of    2007_335.pdf  - Communities may deficit spend under G.L.C c. 44, § 31D only for those expenses directly related to the removal of snow and ice that are variable from year to year, such as overtime costs for DPW plowing crews, the cost of extra sand and chemicals to be spread on the roads, and the cost of hiring plows and drivers during storms. It does not matter where those expenses are budgeted. In order to deficit spend, however, a municipality must appropriate at least the amount appropriated the prior year for those expenditures, wherever budgeted. (12/6/2007)

2008-228 pdf format of    2008_228.pdf  - Proceeds from the sale of cemetery lots may be appropriated to reimburse a municipality for the cost of the land, its care, improvements, or enlargement of the cemetery. Income from perpetual care funds need not be appropriated, and is restricted to covering maintenance expenses. (2/10/2009

2008-811 pdf format of    2008_811.pdf  - Borrowing authority contained in special acts is generally supplemental to a municipality's power to borrow under G.L. c. 44. Special acts generally confer one-time borrowing authority outside the limit of G.L. c. 44, § 10. (2/23/2009)

2008-937 pdf format of    2008_937.pdf  - A limited liability company (LLC) is not eligible for a property tax exemption provided to charitable organizations even if its sole member is a charitable corporation. Only corporations and trusts may qualify. Where a transfer of property ownership to an exempt entity was recorded on July 2, the assessors may rely on the recorded deed to determine ownership as of July 1, or investigate the conveyance further to determine actual ownership as of July 1. (1/30/2009)

2008-982 pdf format of    2008_982.pdf  - An approved debt exclusion for a borrowing to establish a municipal water supply continues to apply to a borrowing for a scaled back project limited to developing test wells, evaluating volume potential and source permitting (Phase I) to the extent that those activities were contemplated as part of the original project and are not fundamentally different from those envisioned at the time of the referendum vote. (2/17/2009)

2008-993 pdf format of    2008_993.pdf  - A fire chief has no statutory authority to spend in excess of the budgeted appropriation for the fire department. Receipts from municipal ambulance service, which the community has reserved for appropriation to defray ambulance expenses under G.L. c. 40, § 5F, may be appropriated for any lawful purpose by the legislative body. (2/2/2009)

2009-68 pdf format of    2009_68.pdf  - Under G.L. c. 60, § 15, a community may set a demand fee in any amount up to $30, but cannot vary the fee for different types or amounts of overdue taxes and excises.

2009-756 pdf format of    2009_756.pdf  - Parcels contiguous to planned sewer line extension are not subject to sewer assessment if they cannot connect to the sewer line for engineering or topographical reasons or they are excluded from sewer line access by Sewer Commissioners given their authority under a special act to allocate limited treatment capacity. (10/7/2009)

2009-756-2 pdf format of    2009_756_2.pdf  - Landowners outside "sewerage service area," who are not required to pay sewer special assessment because service capacity limits preclude any benefit to their parcel, cannot later be assessed if capacity somehow increases without cost. If additional improvements are needed to increase capacity to provide service outside the "sewerage service area," parcels benefited by those hypothetical future improvements can be charged a proportionate share of the costs through a sewer entrance fee, user charges, or graduated user charges. (1/06/2010)

2009-792 pdf format of    2009_792.pdf  - Regulatory bodies such as the zoning board of appeals may have inherent power to impose reasonable application fees to cover the administrative cost of processing the applications, even in the absence of a statute or bylaw authorizing the fees. General Laws c. 44, § 53G, which authorizes a revolving fund for fees used to pay outside consultants, refers to fees set by planning boards, zoning boards, boards of health, and conservation commissions acting under particular statutes and seems to assume that those statutes authorize the imposition of the fees. It is clear that G.L. c. 44, § 53G itself does not authorize the fees it refers to; it authorizes only the use of a revolving fund for the fees, exempting them from the otherwise applicable requirement of G.L. c. 44, § 53 that they be credited to the general fund and spent only by appropriation.

Any waiver or abatement of a fee already paid would generate a refund. Refunds should be charged against revenue of the fiscal year in which the refund is paid, irrespective of the fiscal year in which the fee was originally paid to the municipality. (1/27/2010)
 

2009-834 pdf format of    2009_834.pdf  file size 1MB - Autotransformers delivered to a construction site for an electric utility substation but not connected to an active electric distribution system by the January 1 assessment date are not machinery used in manufacture and are not subject to taxation as of that date to a public utility corporation. (11/30/2009)

2009-848 pdf format of    2009_848 _2ndletter.pdf  - The restrictions, if any, on the municipal officials or other persons who may inspect certain assessing records, specifically abatement applications, income and expense returns, list of small businesses provided by the Department of Workforce Development and small commercial exemption applications, are found in G.L. c. 59, §§ 38D, 52B, 60 and 61A and G.L. c. 151A, § 64A. (9/4/2009)

2009-872 pdf format of    2009_872.pdf   - A community may revoke its acceptance of the Community Preservation Act, G.L. c. 44B, five years after acceptance in the same manner as it was accepted. G.L. c. 44B, § 16(b). We concur with the interpretation of Secretary of State's Elections Division in its guide "How to Accept the Community Preservation Act", that language means that where acceptance was done by voter petition and referendum, then revocation must be by voter petition and referendum. If acceptance was by vote of the legislative body and referendum, the revocation must be by vote of the legislative body and referendum. (9/30/2009)

2009-873 pdf format of    2009_873.pdf   - A parsonage eligible for exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 11 must be owned by a religious organization and occupied by a clergyperson who ministers to a congregation that assembles for religious services in a "house of worship." (7/06/2009)

2009-943 pdf format of    2009_943.pdf  - The group insurance claims trust fund maintained by a municipality under G.L. c. 32B, § 3A must by year end include the percentage contributions from the municipality and its employees in the predetermined ratios adopted by the municipality (in this case 75% for the municipality and 25% for the employees). If the fund has more than a sufficient amount to pay anticipated claims, the municipality and employees may take a premium holiday. If the fund is not sufficient to pay claims, however, premiums may have to be raised to cover the deficit, with additional municipal contributions, if necessary, to meet the predetermined ratios. (8/7/2009)

 

2009-963 pdf format of    2009_963.pdf   - Creating a shelter for wildlife can qualify as a charitable purpose, but public access to the area is an important consideration relating to eligibility for a charitable exemption under G.L. c. 59, § 5, Clause 3. The land must be occupied for the charitable activity of protecting wildlife. Fencing off an area without building facilities for the care of animals would be unlikely to qualify for exemption. (8/24/2009)

 

2009-986-1 pdf format of    2009_986_1.pdf  - The pro forma tax imposed by G.L. c. 59, § 2C when an exempt property is sold to a non-exempt purchaser during a fiscal year may be assessed, committed and collected in the subsequent fiscal year. (7/31/2009)
 

2009-986-2 pdf format of    2009_986_2.pdf  - Property improved with a structure formerly used as a church that is being marketed for sale for purposes of development probably falls within Class 3, commercial property. The commercial class applies, where as in this case, a property does not fall within the narrower definitions of the other classes. (7/31/2009)

2009-1019 pdf format of    2009_1019.pdf  - The local property tax treatment of mobile or manufactured homes depends on their characteristics. Some homes within licensed manufactured housing communities or mobile home parks are considered personal property and are exempt. Homes that have the characteristics of conventional homes are taxable as real estate regardless of location. If located in a licensed park, they would be assessed to the park owner who could contest their assessment by applying for abatement with the assessors. The lease or residency agreement governs whether any abatement obtained is passed on to the homeowners. (9/4/2009)
 

Also see:

2009-1300 pdf format of    2009_1300.pdf   (10/7/2009)(Structures or improvements on land within licensed manufactured housing communities or mobile home parks, including garages or sheds accessory to the homes, are taxable as real estate.)

 


 

2009-1042 pdf format of    2009_1042.pdf  - A control building, 100 meter towers and 2 MW turbines with 50 meter blades built as part of a wind farm are real estate for local property tax purposes and would be included in any exemption negotiated in a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement. They are not personal property, which is completely exempt for any site subject to a TIF agreement. Equipment in the building would be personal property and exempt under the TIF agreement, but the real estate TIF may be adjusted to offset the lost personal property taxes. (10/15/2009)

 

2009-1069 pdf format of    2009_1069.pdf  - Amounts received by a taxpayer under a reverse mortgage and not spent as of July 1 are not included in the taxpayer's whole estate when determining eligibility for a property tax exemption. The payments reflect the taxpayer's equity in the domicile. (8/24/2009)

2009-1071 pdf format of    2009_1071.pdf   - Provision of health care services, medical training, and medical research may qualify as traditional charitable activities, but non-profit physician organization seeking exemption must demonstrate that it adheres to an absolute prohibition against private inurement, including in compensation of physician employees. (10/21/2009)

 

2009-1076 pdf format of    2009_1076.pdf  file size 1MB - In determining whether an entity is a charitable organization within the scope of G.L. c. 59, §5, Clause 3, assessors must make a 3-step analysis. First, they must determine whether the organizational requirements for recognition as a charitable organization have been met. That is, does the entity fall within the categories of literary, benevolent, charitable or scientific institutions or temperance societies and is it organized as a corporation or trust? Secondly, they must determine whether the operational requirements for recognition as a charitable organization have been met. That is, what are the dominant purposes and actual activities of the organization and does it provide a public benefit? And, third, they must determine whether the ownership and occupancy requirements have been met. That is, is the real property owned by or held in trust for the charitable organization and is it occupied and used by the charitable organization or by another charitable organization for charitable purposes? A recent case, New Habitat, Inc. v. Tax Collector of Cambridge, 451 Mass. 729 (2008), examined the operational requirements in some depth and declared that more leeway in meeting exemption standards should be granted to entities which undertake "traditionally charitable" purposes. Therefore, if the dominant purposes and methods of an organization are traditionally charitable ones, other factors typically looked at in charitable exemption cases, such as fees and the number of beneficiaries, will be less important. (2/16/2010)

 
 

2009-1205 pdf format of    2009_1205.pdf   - Grant funds received from the School Building Assistance Authority for a school construction project must be used to cover any deficit in the project account (project expenses) with any balance reserved to pay debt service on the community's share of project costs. They may not be used for general operating expenses. (9/23/2009)

2009-1302 pdf format of    2009_1302.pdf   - A right of first refusal to acquire nine acres of land granted in a deed conveying one acre of contiguous land cannot be transferred by the grantee in the absence of express language permitting assignment of the right. The effect of not recording the right of first refusal on its validity is uncertain, but it is unlikely to impact the fair cash value of property since it must be exercised on the same terms as a bona fide purchaser. An agricultural restriction imposed on the retained nine acres by the grantor in the same deed would likely impact the fair cash value of the land but because it was unlimited in time, it expired 30 years after being granted under G.L. c. 184, § 23. (11/13/2009)

2009-1423 pdf format of    2009_1423.pdf  - A borrowing authorization to design and construct a new elementary school made contingent upon passage of Proposition 2½ ballot question is not valid under G.L. c. 59, § 21C(m) because it did not describe "substantially the same" project as the debt exclusion, which was for bonds issued to renovate and reconstruct the school. (12/7/2009)

2009-1529 pdf format of    2009_1529.pdf  - Water pumping equipment in transfer stations operated by corporate supplier of spring water is not exempt from personal property tax. (1/19/2010)

2009-1532 pdf format of    2009_1532.pdf  - No statute authorizes the use of a revolving fund to pay attorneys' fees in land court foreclosure cases. All proceeds from the redemption of tax titles, or from the sales of tax possession properties after foreclosure, must be used in the calculation of a community's free cash under G.L. c. 59, § 23, with the exception of certain surplus proceeds received from land of low value foreclosure sales. G.L. c. 60, § 79. Attorneys' fees for work on tax title foreclosures must be paid either from an appropriation or from amounts raised without appropriation in the tax levy under G.L. c. 60, § 50B. (2/22/2010)

2010-13 pdf format of    2010_13.pdf  - The prior written consent of the mortgage holder is necessary for a valid property tax deferral agreement. This consent is necessary to ensure the validity of the municipality's lien which secures the repayment of taxes. (2/17/2010)

2010-62 pdf format of    2010_62.pdf  file size 1MB - When a governmental entity switches from a self-insurer to premium based insurance for group health coverage, the health insurance claims trust fund may be used to pay premiums only to the extent all outstanding claims have been paid from the fund, until the amounts that remain in the fund have been exhausted. Then the claims trust fund must be closed out. (2/4/2010)