Property Tax and Valuation Information

What are property taxes?

Property taxes are levied in cities and towns across the commonwealth of Massachusettsto help provide for various municipal and protective services. The tax is based upon the valuation of the property otherwise known as ad valorem taxation. In Massachusetts, the property valuation is an estimation of market value which is your assessment. The valuation and tax is assessed on all real and personal property to the owner of record as of January 1 each year.

What is my property value and how is it figured?

icon of calculatorYour property value appears on your actual tax bill, which is the bill that is due on February 3 of the calendar year 2020. You can also access your property valuation online. In Massachusetts, each community is required to undergo a triennial certification of property values to arrive at an assessment as of January 1 that is reflective of the property’s full and fair cash value. This review is conducted by staff from the State’s Department of Revenue. During non-certification years, assessors are required to perform adjustment to valuations according to the prevailing market condition of the previous calendar year. For example, all sales from calendar year 2018 were reviewed to determine full and fair cash value as of January 1, 2019 for fiscal year 2020. Therefore, your assessment reflects market trends the year prior to the current year.

What are the fiscal year tax rates?

Our fiscal year (FY) 2021 tax rates will be:

  • $12.73 per thousand for residential properties
  • $24.67 per thousand for commercial / industrial / personal (CIP) properties

How is the tax rate determined?

The tax rate is a mathematical calculation determined by dividing the total tax dollars to be raised by the total value of property. The Classification Amendment of 1978 allows communities to shift a portion of the residential tax burden onto commercial, industrial, and personal property taxpayers. This is why, like many other cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Wakefield has a lower residential tax rate and a higher commercial tax rate.

What is Proposition 2 ½ and how does it affect my taxes?

This initiative was adopted by Massachusetts voters in 1980. It limits the amount of taxes to be raised by a community by 2 ½ percent of what it raised last year plus certain exceptions for new growth or overrides and exclusions as adopted by voters. This limitation does not apply to individual tax bills. Therefore, increases can and may be greater than 2 ½ percent.

What if I disagree with the valuation of my property?

If you disagree with the valuation of your property, you may file an application for abatement with the Board of Assessors. An abatement is a reduction of property taxes based upon a reduction in the assessed value of taxable property. Taxpayers can file for any reason including overvaluation, disproportionate assessment, improper classification, or tax exemption based on use. Valuation will be determined by both an interior inspection of the property and market conditions as of January 1. Learn more about the abatement process.