Abatements - The Assessors can lower an assessment if there is an error in the factual data, or if a taxpayer can show that a property assessment is not in line with assessments for an improved property of similar style, age, square footage, amenities, etc. A taxpayer can only seek an abatement from the time the third bill, known as the “actual” bill is mailed (usually one of the last days in December) until these bills are due to be paid on February 1. The application must be in writing on an approved form! (There are different guidelines if bills are mailed after December 31.) Corrections to factual data can be made at any time however, the change in assessment is applied to the next year’s bill if it is not done through the abatement process (i.e. timely filed). The timing of when an assessment can be adjusted is prescribed by statute. This applies whether the change will increase or decrease the assessed value. It also applies if the Town made an error on the property card. Again, whether the error is against or in favor of the owner, it can only be applied to the current or future tax year (if filed timely, or the next fiscal year). There are no retroactive abatements.
Senior Work Program – Several years ago (fiscal 2002) the Select Board adopted a new statute know as the “senior work program” that is administrated by the Council on Aging (565-4150). This allows a limited number of elderly individuals to reduce their tax bill by up to $1,500 per year in exchange for work done in various town offices. Information is available at the COA. This type of “abatement” is applied to the fourth quarter tax bill that is due May 1.
- Exemptions to Persons - Massachusetts General Laws contain several statutes that provide for individual exemptions from real property tax bills. Personal exemptions are specific to the individual and applied to the owners’ real estate. Exemptions are available for veterans with a war-service connected disability; “legally” blind person; a surviving spouse or minor children of a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty; indigent individuals who due to age, infirmity and poverty are unable to pay taxes as well as elderly individuals who meet residency, age, income and asset requirements. Any questions related to personal exemptions should be addressed to the Assessor’s Office. Legislation also allows for an income tax credit beginning with the filing of the 2001 income tax form for certain qualifying individuals 70 years of age or older. For information on income tax credits, please consult your tax preparer.
- Exemptions to Property – Certain property is exempt from taxation. Charitable, religious, educational institutions as well as property owned by Federal, State and local government are included.