Real Estate Taxes

How is my Property Value Determined?

Property taxes are the main source of revenue for most towns, including Northborough. All non-exempt properties including those owned by businesses are taxed at a flat rate which is adjusted each year. Some properties are exempt from real estate taxes, including land owned by the town or state, churches, and charities. For fiscal year 2020, which we are currently in, the tax rate is 17.25. The fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th of each year, and each fall the town determines what the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year will be.

Your property tax bill is based on the assessed value of your property, any exemptions for which you qualify, and the property tax rate. Your property tax assessment is determined on January 1st of each year. It is based on valid sales from the previous calendar year. So, for example, FY2021 values are made as of January 1st, 2020 and are based on valid sales from calendar year 2019. The value is also based on the neighborhood you live in and the size of your property and house. Our goal is always to come as close as possible to full and fair cash value of your property.

Every 10 years, the assessor’s department is required to inspect each house in the town. You may meet one of our assessors when they come to inspect your home. If you are not home, they will leave a tag on your door so you can reschedule an inspection. You are not required to allow an inspection, but an inspection must be done if you wish to be granted an abatement on your taxes.

For more information, check out the Taxpayer's Guide to Assessing and the State Property Value Reassessment Guidelines.

Understanding Your Quarterly Tax Bill

The fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th of each year. Your tax bill is based off this fiscal year system and is broken into four quarters. The due dates for bills are typically the 1st of August, November, February, and May. Because the town tax rate is not set until the fall, the bills from the first two quarters (due August and November) are estimated based on your previous year’s assessment. These are referred to as “preliminary bills.” The last two bills are then adjusted to reflect your home’s new value and will make up any difference from the first two quarters. These are referred to as “actual bills.”

Receiving an Abatement

If you believe the value of your property is incorrect, there is a process by which you may receive an abatement. By state law, applications for abatements can only be received during the month of January. The assessor’s department then has 3 months to approve or deny your application.

There are several reasons you may apply for an abatement, including:

  • The assessed value is too high based on comparable sales
  • There is an unusual situation on my property which would affect its resale value (e.g. it is next to an airport)
  • There was a computational error on my tax bill

If you would like to file for an abatement, we encourage you to contact our office for more information. We would be happy to walk you through the following process.

  • You apply for an abatement with an application and supporting documents if needed.
  • Our office schedules an inspection of your home. An inspection is required for an abatement to be granted.
  • We may ask you to sit down with our principal assessor to discuss why you feel your value is incorrect.
  • The assessor either grants or denies the application. If granted, we will send a letter with an offer of abatement which all homeowners must sign and return.
  • If denied, we will send a letter informing you of the denial and our reasons for it. If you feel this denial is unfair, you may appeal the decision at the Appellate Tax Board.
  • The abatement is reflected on your third or fourth quarter tax bill.

Receiving an Exemption

The town offers several partial and full exemptions for property tax. Full exemptions are based on state-defined lists of use exemptions, including churches, veteran’s lodges, and charities. If you believe you may qualify for one of these exemptions, you must submit a 3ABC form by March 1st to the assessor’s office.

We also offer partial exemptions as tax relief options. You may qualify for an exemption if you are:

  • Over 60 (income and asset limitations apply)
  • A veteran with a 10%+ disability
  • Legally Blind

Please see our Tax Relief – Exemptions page for more information or contact our office.

Frequently Asked Questions

My third and/or fourth quarter is more than my first two quarter bills. Why did it change?

The first two quarter bills are estimated based on your previous year’s assessment. If this estimation was too low, the additional amount required to make up your yearly tax total will be added to the third and fourth quarter bills.

Why was someone from the assessor’s office taking pictures of my house?

Our database includes pictures of every property in order to maintain accurate records. Our office always strives to be polite and inobtrusive. If our presence is unwelcome, please feel free to let us know.

Why was the value of my property raised significantly from last year when I have not made any changes?

Northborough is an increasingly popular place to live, and as such property values are moving up year to year. There are trends in the market which means certain types of houses may be selling at higher values than previously. Furthermore, the neighborhood you live in may be in high demand. All of these things can affect your value in a given year.

My property card says that my house is a 2 bedroom when really it has 3 bedrooms. Can you fix this?

We follow specific guidelines that determine whether something is considered a bedroom. If you believe there is an error regarding bedrooms or any other specific features of your house, please contact our office.