Real Estate / Property Tax Abatement Info

icon of house with dollar signAn abatement is a reduction of property taxes based upon a reduction in the assessed value of taxable property. Taxpayers can file for an abatement for any reason including overvaluation, disproportionate assessment, improper classification, or tax exemption based on use.You can obtain an abatement application online.

When and where do I file?

Applications for property tax abatements are available at the Assessors' office and online. Forms may be filed after the third quarter tax bill is mailed, usually late December, and on or before the due date of that bill, usually the first business day of February. Any application filed after the date taxes are due as a matter of state law cannot be considered by the Assessors.

What are the criteria for filing for an abatement?

Applications are generally filed for two reasons: 

  • owners who feel that their property assessments are higher than the price for which the properties can be sold
  • there is a mistake on the property record card that serves to overstate property value

Abatements cannot be granted because a homeowner considers taxes to be too high in general. Assessors are charged with the responsibility of determining property value and the allocation of the tax levy.

What information should I include with my abatement application?

Your application should be as specific as possible as to why you feel your assessment is too high. Assessments are determined after careful analysis of sales that have taken place in the community. After our analysis and assignment of new valuations, all aspects are then reviewed by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The purpose of this review is to assure that the sales model that we developed accurately reflects those sales and has been applied consistently throughout the town.
To defend your position, you should cite actual sales of comparable properties. The Assessors' office has a wealth of sales information available for you to peruse. If you do find a sold property that is comparable to yours, evaluate its property record card with your own. Ensure items like lot size and living area are truly comparable. Also, check your information to ensure accuracy. In addition to obtaining a copy of the property record card through a public-access computer in the Assessors' office, you can also access property information online.

While checking the accuracy of your property record card, please be mindful that some of the data is simply descriptive and does not affect value. An example would be room count; the property has seven rooms and the record lists eight; or the property has three bedrooms and the record lists four. Other items like finished living area and bathroom counts, however, do affect value.

VERY IMPORTANT: since sales from 2018 were used to establish the fiscal year 2020 assessments, applicants are strongly urged to use sales only from 2018. Our office will have a book of all 2018 sales available to the public. Market activity during 2019 will be used for assessments next fiscal year.

What happens after I file?

All applicants will be subject to an interior inspection of the property. Next, each application and all relevant property information will be reviewed by the Board of Assessors. The sales of the most similar properties will be reviewed and particular attention will be given to those sales cited by the applicant. The Board must render a decision within 90 days from the date of application and notify the applicant within 10 days of that decision. If you have any questions about the decision of your abatement application, feel free to contact the Assessing Department at 781-246-6380.

Do I still pay my taxes after I file an application for abatement?

Yes, to avoid interest charges the taxes should be paid by the due date. Non-payment or late payment could jeopardize your rights of appeal.

Can I appeal the decision of the Board of Assessors?

Yes you can. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessors, you may file an appeal with the state’s Appellate Tax Board, 100 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02114. Their telephone number is 617-727-3100.

If you have any questions about a decision on your abatement application, please contact us.