Q: How is my property assessed?
Properties are assessed based on what comparable properties are selling for in the town during the year of valuation. The Assessors maintain data on all properties in the Town and implement procedures to assess properties at full and fair market value.
Q: Why & how often is my home inspected?
Homes are inspected to ensure that the data the Assessors have is up-to-date and accurate. Homes are generally inspected for the following three reasons:
1. A building permit has been filed on the property.
2. The property has been sold.
3. The ongoing re-inspection of the property to conform to the Department of Revenue's guidelines. (Homes are re-inspected every five to seven years)
If you are contacted to schedule an appointment, please call the office so that we may set up a specific date and time to verify the data on your property. The appointment should take no longer than 15 minutes, depending on the size of your home.
Q: If my assessment increases does that mean my property taxes will increase?
Higher property assessments do not cause higher taxes. The total municipal budget determines the amount of money to be raised from property taxes. The tax rate may stay the same or even decrease, because of the overall increase in the total value of the community. YOUR TAX BILL IS BASED ON THE SPENDING OF THE TOWN. An increase in the assessed value does not necessarily cause an increase in taxes. Your bill is a direct result of the Town's budget.
Q: Why and how often do assessments increase/change?
Assessments can change every year. Assessments are based on the fair market value of the property. If the market is increasing or decreasing the assessments follow the market pattern and will increase or decrease accordingly. If the market is stable, assessments will remain stable as well. The objective of the revaluation program is to ensure that everyone's assessment is fair and accurate. If all property is assessed at its market value, individual taxpayers will be assured that they pay only their fair share of the tax burden.
Q: Why did my tax bill go up 10% and the total tax levy only went up 5% from last year?
The tax levy and proposition 2 1/2 are not parcel-specific. Some properties will always bear more of the allowed annual increases (previous year's tax levy +2 1/2% +new growth + overrides) than other properties. Within the Town, certain neighborhoods and types of homes appreciate in value at a faster pace than others. Even in a declining market, certain properties will appreciate or maintain their value.
Q: Doesn't Prop 2 1/2 mean that my annual property taxes cannot increase more than 2 1/2 %?
No. Proposition 2 1/2 sets a limit on the entire tax levy for the Town. 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 2 1/2 establishes a limit on the revenue a municipality can raise from property taxes. Proposition 2 1/2 does not limit the amount by which an individual tax bill may change from year to year.
Q: How does prop 2 1/2 limit taxes?
Proposition 2 1/2 contains 2 limitations on the amount of property taxes a town can raise:
1. The property tax levy ceiling (the amount raised) can never exceed 2 1/2% of the full cash value of all taxable property in the town.
2. The tax rate can never be higher than $25 per thousand of valuation.
Q: What is the relationship of property values and the tax rate?
Proposition 2 1/2 sets the maximum amount of property taxes (or the levy) that a town can raise. Once the amount to be raised is determined, a tax rate is calculated by dividing the amount to be raised (tax levy) by the total valuation of the town. Whether the tax rate for a community will increase or decrease from the prior year will depend on the change in the tax levy voted by the community and the change in property values.
Q: Are there any tax assistance programs?
See detailed explanations in the Exemption - Property Tax Relief section of this website.
Q: How can I appeal my real estate or personal property assessment?
Your property’s data record card is available for you to check for errors or to ask questions regarding the market value. If there are any questions or errors, you should discuss those with the director or staff. A visit to the property in question will also be conducted. After the discussion and visit, if you want to continue the abatement process, the application is made to the Board of Assessors and is due no later than February 1. If the abatement application is received after the deadline the Assessors have no authority to abate the bill, even if there is an error. The Assessors then have 3 months to decide if the abatement is warranted. When the decision is made you are informed within ten days of the decision. If you are still aggrieved you may file an appeal at the appellate tax board in Boston.