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Assessor: Frequently Asked Questions

I just bought property this year.  Why is the prior owner still on the tax bill?

Property tax assessments are billed for fiscal year 2004, with an effective date of January 1, 2003.  This means that the owner as of January 1, 2003 should appear on the tax bill.  However, as the current owner, you should still pay the tax bill before the due date to avoid interest from being assessed and a tax lien being placed on the property.

Should I file for abatement on my property tax?

If you believe there are factual errors in date pertaining to your property, or you believe that comparable sale properties are assessed substantially less (ten percent) than your property, then you should file an abatement application.

How do I file for an abatement?

Abatement applications are available by clicking on the link from the previous page or by visiting our office.  Abatements can be filed for thirty days following the mailing of the first tax bill of the fiscal year usually during the month of January.  The filing deadline is always printed on the tax bill.  Please keep in mind the Board of Assessors has no jurisdiction to act on an application that is filed later than 5:00 p.m. on the day the abatement application is due.

The Board of Assessors looks for persuasive evidence before changing any assessment.  Applications should include a complete description of factual errors.  For example, errors in number of baths, year built, square footage of living area, etc.  Factual errors usually require a site visit.  Or, if you believe your property is over-assessed, provide an analysis of comparable sale properties with your abatement application.  The analysis should include at least recent sales of homes that are similar to yours in characteristics such as style, living area, number of bedrooms, lot size and location.  Property record cards are available to support your claim.

You will receive a notice of decision on your application within three months of the date you filled an application.  If an abatement is granted, your second half tax bill will be reduced by the amount of the abatement.  If the Board of Assessors denies your application, there is an additional appeal process available.  The appeal must be filed within ninety days of the Board of Assessors’ decision by contacting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board, 399 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108-5292 (617) 727-3100 or click on the link from the previous page for an appeal form.

Filing an application for abatement does not stay the collection of your taxes.  In order to preserve your rights of appeal, pay the tax when due.

If I have questions about real estate abatements, exemptions deferrals, or motor vehicle excise tax, whom can I call?

Call the Board of Assessors at (508) 460-3779.

If I have a questions regarding payment of taxes, whom do I call?

Call the Collector's office at (508) 460-3773.

What is motor vehicle excise tax?

Motor vehicle excise tax is an annual tax for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or trailer.  Anyone who registers a vehicle in Massachusetts will receive an excise tax bill from the municipality where the vehicle is garaged.  The amount of excise tax due is calculated by multiplying the value of the vehicle by the tax rate ($25.00 per thousand dollars of value).  The value of the vehicle is determined by the Registry formula taking the applicable percentage for the year of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).  The manufacturers list price rather than the actual purchase price is used to calculate motor vehicle excise tax.

Applicable Percentage for the Year

Do not ignore your excise bill!  Even though you may have sold, traded or otherwise disposed of the vehicle, your bill is always due thirty (30) days from the issue date.  If the bill is unpaid and remains outstanding more than thirty (30) days after its issue date, it will accrue interest charges and fees for which you will be responsible.  Your driver's license and/or vehicle registration will also be returned to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for non-renewal action.

When am I eligible for motor vehicle excise abatement?

Please note that an application for abatement does not mean that you do not pay your Motor Vehicle Excise Tax.  In the event that an abatement is granted due to sale, trade, theft, loss, etc, the amount abated will be refunded to you.  No abatement shall be granted for less than $5.00, and no amount shall be refunded below $5.00.  The Board of Assessors has authority to abate an excise tax bill only if an application is timely filed.  To be filed in a timely manner, an application must be received on or before December 31st of the year following the year to which the excise tax bill relates.  Once registered in the year, a bill can be abated only if the vehicle is sold, traded, junked, totaled or otherwise disposed of and the plates are transferred to another vehicle or cancelled.   If the vehicle is disposed of and the plates are not transferred or cancelled, no abatement can be issued; or if the plates have been cancelled or transferred and the original vehicle is not disposed of, no abatement can be issued.

You may be eligible for an excise abatement in any of the situations listed below.  Come in to the Assessors office to complete an abatement application (or click HERE for the form) and provide us with all the required documentation.  All requested supporting documentation must be supplied for the bill to be abated.

Sold:   Bill of sale and Plate Return Receipt or new registration if plate transferred  
Traded: New registration or Plate Return Receipt and Purchase Agreement citing vehicle as trade-in      
Stolen or Total Loss:   Insurance Company Settlement Letter and C-19 form (Affidavit of Lost or Stolen Plate from Registry) or new registration if plate transferred    
Moved from Massachusetts:       Registration from new state and a Plate Return Receipt  
Junked Vehicle: Receipt from junkyard and Plate Return Receipt or new registration is plate transferred.        
Vehicle returned to Dealer:     Letter from dealer acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or new registration if plate transferred   
Charitable Donation:    Letter from Charity acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or new registration if plate transferred  
Active Duty Non-Resident                

When your excise tax abatement is processed you will receive an Abatement Certificate from the Board of Assessors.  If a refund is due, a check will follow from the Tax Collector.

For questions about vehicle registration information or vehicle valuation, call the Registry of Motor Vehicles Excise Tax Correction Bureau at (617) 351-9380 or click on their website at to change your address or get general information.

Who qualifies for a motor vehicle excise exemption?

Motor vehicle excise blind excise exemption

To qualify for a motor vehicle excise Blind Exemption, all of the following must be met:

·       Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes
·       Must own and register vehicle for their own personal use
·       Must submit either a certificate from the Division of the Blind or a physician's letter
·       Vehicle must be owned and registered by blind person

Motor Vehicle Excise Handicapped Exemption

To qualify for a motor vehicle excise Handicapped Exemption all of the following must be met:

·       Must suffer either the lost of or the permanent loss of use of both arms or both legs
·       A letter from a physician stating such loss
·       If exemption is sought due to loss of use of limbs, the letter must state that is a permanent loss
·       Vehicle must be owned and registered by a handicapped person.

If a person qualifies for a blind or handicapped motor vehicle exemption and owns more than one vehicle, they have the right to choose which vehicle the exemption is applied to.


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