Appealing Your Assessment

Appealing Your Assessment

Taxpayers are justifiably concerned about rising property taxes. But how can anger at higher taxes be turned into effective protest and a successful appeal of assessed value? Act according to three important principles and you may halt rising taxes and file a successful appeal. Even if you can't change anything, you will understand more about what really needs to be changed.

  1. Separate the issue of higher taxes from the issue of the accuracy of the assessed value of your property. Elected officials, school boards and other special taxing authorities establish your tax bill. Assessors estimate the market value of your property.
  2. Understand how the assessor arrived at the value of your property. Assessors estimate the fair market value of a property, that is, the price most people would pay for it in its condition as of the assessment date. The best indicator of fair market value is market activity. Buyers and sellers create market value by their transactions. If you do file an appeal, this information will help you to construct your case. Find several properties similar to yours (called comparables), preferably in the same neighborhood. Find out what their assessed values are or the prices at which they sold, if they sold recently. For fiscal 2002 the sales must not have occurred after January 1, 2001.
  3. Establish a cooperative, not an adversarial, relationship with the assessor's office. The office can and will provide you with the information you need to evaluate your assessment, find similar properties, and file your appeal. Be sure to follow instructions carefully. A missed deadline or incorrect filing can cause an appeal to be dismissed.

REASONS FOR AN ABATEMENT

  1. Overvaluation
  2. Disproportionate Assessment (pertains to entire property classes, not individual unit or development)
  3. Improper Classification

WHO MAY APPLY

You may file an application if you are: the assessed or subsequent owner, the owners' representative, a tenant obligated to pay the tax, a person owning or having an interest in the property or, a mortgagee if the assessed owner has not applied.

ABATEMENT PROCEDURES

Application forms are available at the Board of Assessors, Town Hall, 2198 Main Street, Brewster, MA 02631. Office hours are Monday - Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

The application must be filed with the Board of Assessors within 30 days of the date of issuance of the actual bill. No abatement can be granted unless the application is filed on time.

PAYMENT OF TAX

Pay the amount of tax indicated on the bill on or before 30 days of the date of issuance of the actual bill. Interest will be due if the payment is received late. Failure to pay the tax in a timely manner jeopardizes your right to appeal.

If the total tax on real estate is over $3,000, the tax must be paid before interest accrues, in order to maintain the right to appeal a decision (of the Board of Assessors) to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board (ATB). The ATB is an independent administrative board, under the direction of the state government. Failure to pay the tax in a timely manner jeopardizes your right to appeal.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUEST

The Board of Assessors is authorized by law to request information that is necessary if they are to properly determine the fair cash value of the property. To preserve your right to appeal an abatement decision, you must provide all information requested by the Board of Assessors.

Failure to respond to an information request, within thirty (30) days of the date of the request, will result in a denial of the application and may bar an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board.

ACTION BY THE BOARD OF ASSESSORS

The Board of Assessors attempts to process all abatement applications within three (3) months of filing. You will be informed of the status of the application through the following notices:

Notice Of Approval - The Board of Assessors will abate the amount specified in the notice. If the tax has been paid, the taxpayer will be reimbursed through the Tax Collectors Office.

Notice Of Denial - No abatement will be granted. A denial will be issued in cases where the Board of Assessors has made a decision based on the merits of the abatement application; or for reasons of inaction in cases where the department has not made a decision on an abatement application within three (3) months of its filing date.

Appeal to the Appellate Tax Board

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessors, you may file an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board. It is located 399 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108. The telephone number is (617) 727-3100.

YOU MAY ELECT TO FILE AN APPEAL TO THE APPELLATE TAX BOARD IF:

You are dissatisfied with the amount of the abatement granted.

You disagree with the decision of the Board of Assessors to deny the abatement application, including denial for reason of inaction by the Board of Assessors.

The proper forms for an appeal can be obtained at the Appellate Tax Board.

An appeal to the Appellate Tax Board must be filed within three (3) months of the date on which the Board of Assessors made its decision to grant or deny abatement for any reason including inaction.