MA Property Tax Alert: What to Do If You Disagree with Your FY2021 Assessment
The deadline to appeal Fiscal Year 2021 assessments to municipal Boards of Assessors in Massachusetts depends on whether your property is located in a municipality that collects taxes two or four times per year. This being said, whether the tax is collected on a semi-annual basis or on a quarterly basis, owners must challenge their assessments within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the actual tax bill (which occurs with either the second tax bill or the third quarter tax bill, respectively).
January 1 is the date when most third quarter tax bills are mailed in Massachusetts; therefore, under M.G.L. Chapter 59, the majority of abatement applications must be filed with local assessors’ offices on or before Monday, February 1, 2021. In communities where taxes are paid on a semi-annual basis the date of mailing typically varies, but the thirty (30) day period during which appeals are due likely will occur sometime in either November or December of 2020, with the deadline stated on the face of the second (actual) installment tax bill.
As such, you must file/mail the application for abatement, which is the first required step in the process of appealing real and personal property assessments in Massachusetts, no later than the due date. The standard abatement application form, State Form 128, must be used by taxpayers to file an appeal with their local board of assessors. Furthermore, to preserve your abatement and appeal rights, your taxes must be paid in their entirety for the current and all prior periods.
After the application for abatement is filed, the municipal Boards of Assessors have three months to render a decision. The Boards of Assessors may invite a taxpayer for a meeting to discuss the application for abatement and/or request supplemental information as part of the process, however, it is highly unusual that such requests are made.
Once the municipal Board of Assessors renders its decision, a taxpayer has three months from the date of the Board of Assessors’ decision to file an appeal with the Appellate Tax Board. If a municipal Board of Assessors does not render a decision within three months of a taxpayer’s filing of an application for abatement, the appeal is deemed denied by the municipal Board and the three-month time period for filing an appeal with the Appellate Tax Board begins to run at the end of the initial three-month period.
Although a taxpayer may have an unresolved appeal pending at the Appellate Tax Board from a prior fiscal year, it is extremely important to note that appeals of a parcel’s assessment must be taken annually to preserve the taxpayer’s appeal rights from year to year and payment of taxes must remain current.
The date of value for Fiscal Year 2021 assessments is January 1, 2020. While COVID-19 was not yet on the horizon as of the operative date, each assessment should be reviewed carefully. Even if your assessment has not increased substantially, a challenge may be in your best interest if property or market conditions warrant a lower value.
Pullman & Comley LLC attorneys located in our Springfield office can guide you through the appeal process in Massachusetts.