For many Massachusetts homes, assessed values used to calculate property taxes have lagged behind true market values. A home's actual value may have declined over a period years, without this being reflected in the property tax bill. Often, local boards of assessors increase municipal tax rates in order to make up for a shortfall in collections. You can file, within 30 days of the mailing of the tax bills, for an abatement to petition for the lower value to be used. At Pulgini & Norton, our real estate attorneys can offer advice to Boston property owners on abatements.Seeking a Tax Reduction through an Abatement
Abatements are reductions in property tax. You can file for abatement if the assessed value is too high or overvalued, or if there is a disproportionate assessment, improper classification, or statutory exemption. There may be a dispute about how the property is valued or classified, such as when a property that is residential is classified as commercial. Residential taxpayers may apply for abatement only for the current fiscal year.
For residential property tax payers, the dispute is usually about how the property is valued, and the dispute arises out of the home's actual value versus the assessed value. You cannot retroactively file an application for abatement on prior years of property taxes. Either the person on whom a tax has been assessed or somebody who bought the property after January 1 can apply for that year. A fiscal year application will need to be filed after the third quarter tax bill, but no later than February 1. You can get an application form at City Hall.
How long does it take to find out about whether your abatement was approved? The Assessing Department tries to process applications within three months of filing. You can be informed of your application status with a Notice of Approval or Notice of Denial. If your abatement application is approved, the notice will specify the amount that will be abated, and any overpayments are reimbursed. A denial may be issued based on the merits of your application or your failure to file an information requisition, or in cases of inaction.
If you disagree with the notice you receive, you can appeal the Assessing Department's decision within three months of its decision to approve or deny your application. Grounds for appeal include that you are dissatisfied with the amount of the abatement you were granted, you disagree with a denial, you agreed to an abatement recommendation but did not receive approval from the Commissioner of Assessing, or you have not received either an abatement refund or an abatement certificate on or before the appeals deadline.Enlist a Boston Attorney to Protect Your Rights as a Property Owner
At Pulgini & Norton, our experienced Boston lawyers can advise you on property taxes and many other matters related to the financing of a home. Abatement applications, procedures, and policies vary slightly from city to city Our attorneys understand how to bring abatement applications in other Massachusetts cities as well, including Malden, Quincy, and Newton. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a consultation.