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Frequently Asked Assessment Questions

What is an Assessment?

The assessed value (or assessment) is the value of property to be used for local taxation as determined by the Assessors according to Massachusetts General Laws and regulations set by the Commissioner of Revenue.

Why did my Assessment change?

Assessors must value all real and personal property within their communities annually to achieve full and fair cash value assessments in accordance with the requirements of Massachusetts General Laws.

How are my taxes determined?

The amount of taxes you pay is determined by the appropriations in the annual budget. The City adopts a budget that reflects what services will be provided and the cost to provide those services. After the City adopts a budget, the amount of taxes to be raised is calculated in accordance with Proposition 2-1/2 and divided by the total taxable valuation of the City to determine the projected single tax rate. The City Council then holds a public hearing to determine whether and how much residential tax will be shifted onto the commercial properties, commonly referred to as the split tax rate (commercial properties pay a higher tax rate than residential properties). All the information is forwarded to the Department of Revenue for its review and approval. The tax rates are then finalized to raise the needed dollars to pay for City services.

Is the purpose of a revaluation to increase taxes?

No, the purpose of a revaluation is to make all parcels in a community fair and equitable in relation to each other, based on current market trends. Whether taxes as a whole go up or down is based more on the City’s budget than the assessments.

How can my assessment change when I haven’t done anything to my property?

Since assessments must be set at market value, rising real estate values in the City resulted in higher assessments. As property values change in the marketplace (sales), those changes must be reflected in the assessments. All properties, however, do not change in value to exactly the same degree. Many factors influence values. Among the numerous factors to be considered are location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, finished basement, garages, additions, and traffic.

What if I disagree with the assessed value of my property?

If you believe that your property is overassessed, not assessed fairly in comparison to other properties, or that it is not classified correctly, you have the right to file for an abatement of taxes. Applications for abatement are available and must be filed with the Assessors Office. In filing an abatement application you will want to be specific about why you disagree with your assessment. Is there some misinformation on your property record card? Did you find values of comparable properties lower than your property? Please provide us with all the necessary information to support your position on valuation.

When can I apply for an abatement on my Real or Personal Property?

Once the ACTUAL TAX bill (3rd installment of Quarterly Billing) are MAILED, you will have until the due date of the 3rd installment (February 1, 2016) to file an abatement application with the Assessor’s Office. Please note that the Board of Assessors may only consider an application for an abatement that has been filed with the Assessor’s Office in a timely manner.

How can I learn more about my rights for an abatement, exemption, or deferral?

By contacting the Assessors’ Office at (781) 393-2435 or stopping by their office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM; Wednesday 8:30 AM – 7:30 PM; or Friday, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM.