Tax Rates & Assessed Values

Tax Rates vs. Assessed Values

The assessor unfairly bears the brunt of anger about rising taxes. But yelling at the assessor about your tax bill is as effective as yelling at your mail carrier because the price of stamps has gone up. The assessor's job is narrower than most -tax payers believe. Assessors don't decide how much tax is to be paid and they don't establish tax rates. Their task is to estimate, as accurately as possible, the market value of your property.

Pretend for a moment that the assessor's estimation of your property is the highest price you would be allowed to accept if you sold. If that were so, you would be much more concerned about the accuracy of the valuation than the effect on your tax bill. If you can keep pretending, you will have the right framework for your discussion with the assessor. You will both be clearly focused on determining if the value of your property has been accurately estimated. You will be able to think about the problem more clearly and understand if and how the assessor's office is at fault.

You may still be angry about the size of your tax bill. To mount an effective protest against high property taxes, you need to concentrate your efforts in keeping the overall spending in the town down. Remember that the voters at town meeting determine the amount of money appropriated.

The tax rate is a relationship between the amount of taxes to be raised and the tax base. The tax rate is calculated by dividing the tax base (the total assessed value of all taxable property in the town) into the amount of tax to be raised.

The next question to ask is whether increased services or the increased costs of services justify increased taxes. You may decide that you are willing to pay more taxes for an improved school system or better police or fire protection. These are complex questions that must be addressed to the appropriate officials--not to the assessor.

Abatements, exemptions, deferral questions:
Assessor's office: (508) 896-3701
Extensions: 122, 137, 143

Payment questions:
Treasurer/tax collector's office
(508) 896-3701 extension 112