A taxpayer may apply for an abatement of a real or personal property tax for reasons of overvaluation. Timely filed applications for abatement are received in the Assessor’s office after the issuance of the actual tax bill in December through the deadline of the first actual payment of the fiscal year; the February 1st payment due date. Abatement applications received outside of this timeframe are not filed timely, and as such will be denied. Reasons for overvaluation are outlined below:
- Overvaluation – The taxpayer disagrees with the assessors’ assessment of the fair cash value of the property or believes the valuation reflects a data or other error.
- Disproportionate assessment – The taxpayer believes that the property is valued at a higher percentage of fair market value than other properties.
- Misclassification of real property – The taxpayer believes the property is not properly classified.
- Statutory exemption – The taxpayer believes an exemption applies based on the ownership and use of the property; as would apply to a church, charitable organization, educational organization, etc.
Assessors have three months from the date they receive an abatement application to grant or deny an abatement. The three month action period can be extended by written consent of the taxpayer. The application is deemed denied if the assessors do not act within the three month, or extended, action period. Assessors must notify the taxpayer in writing of their disposition of the application. If they grant an abatement, assessors give notice by issuing an abatement certificate to the taxpayer. If the application is denied or deemed denied, the assessors must issue a denial notice. Abatement certificates and denial notices must be sent within 10 days of the date the assessors act on the application, or the application is deemed denied.
Taxpayers aggrieved by the Board of Assessor’s decision to abate real estate, personal property or excise tax may pursue an appeal at the Appellate Tax Board. The Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board (“Board”) is a quasi-judicial agency within the executive branch "but not subject to its control in the conduct of its adjudicatory functions." It is devoted exclusively to hearing and deciding cases on appeal from any state or local taxing authority. The Board was established by the Legislature in 1929 to relieve the Superior Court of the large volume of tax appeals, and to provide taxpayers with a less expensive and more expedient means of appeal. Since the Board handles appeals related to virtually all state taxes and excises as well as appeals of local property taxes from all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, it is at the center of the entire system of revenue production for the Commonwealth. For more information about the ATB, follow the link below: