RE18RC18: Property Assessments, Valuation and Taxation

A Description of Assessments, Values and Taxes
  1. Property Taxes
  1. Budget –city/town total assessed value-tax rate (per $1,000 assessed value)
  2. Municipal Revenue –primary source- ad valorem system –part of budget
  3. Personal Property Taxes- business furnishings, household furnishings (not principal residence), & public utilities properties (professional tools & intangible property exempted)
  4. Community Preservation tax –supports, recreation, affordable housing, historical preservation, & open space –local option including percentage level
  5. Personal Exemptions on Real Estate Assessments-elderly, veterans, blind, & hardship
  6. Quarterly or semi-annual invoices –preliminary invoices used-delinquencies cited
  7. Property Tax Exemptions-hospitals, religious organizations, educational institutions, government, residential & small business (local option), & PILOT
  8. Tax deeds, tax liens, & interest –severe delinquency & foreclosure
  9. Tax Incremental Financing – tax incentive for business siting in community
  10. Tax rate setting –burden shift from residential property owners to commercial / industrial property owners –statutory limit
  11. Prop. 2  ½ -relation to tax levy & new growth–Overrides, Underrides, & Debt Exclusions


  1. Assessments & Valuations
  1. Board of Assessors –appointed or elected-determine value via formulas –approve or deny exemption & abatement requests and defend calculated values at Appellate Tax  Board
  2. Mass appraisals using computerized formulas with adjustments (comparing similar property with slightly different specifications) done for commercial, industrial & residential property
  3. GIS & mapping provide property details –systems & measurement methods
  4. Agricultural, forestry, & recreation purpose properties receive discounted valuation (Mass. General  Laws –Chapters 60,61,& 62)-with revisions
  5. Property depreciation –curable vs. incurable, obsolescence vs. deterioration, observed condition & economic age- life methods
  6. Full cash value applied for market, cost, & income approach
    1. Unique Properties –historic, famous, technology (e.g. solar) & stigma-attached
    2. Appeals Process – Appellate Tax Board or Superior Court, formal or informal process, participants, etc.


Info Sources – Property Assessment Valuation (International Association of Assessing Officers) & Laws Relating to Municipal Finance & Taxation (Mass. Revenue Department –Local Services Division)


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