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The Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) is a statewide organization of 1,400 professionals dedicated to providing local communities with accurate and reliable information upon which to manage finances.
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The assessors are required by Massachusetts law to value all real and personal property within the town.
They value every property from single-family residences to the largest commercial and industrial enterprises. Periodically, outside professional appraisers are used to assist with specialized assessments. Special assessing computer software is used to maintain values and assist with the multitude of calculations required in their work.
Every three years, the assessors must re-value all real and personal property and submit these values to the state Department of Revenue for certification. Assessors must also maintain the values in the years between certification. This is done so that each property taxpayer in the town pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government.
Assessors also have a responsibility for motor vehicle excise tax bills, originated by the State Registry of Motor Vehicles, and boat excise tax bills, generated at the local level. For motor vehicles, they update the bills to reflect recent changes and then pass them onto the Town Collector for distribution. For boat excise bills, they contact boat yards, marinas and the town's Harbormaster for listings of owners. Like the motor vehicle excise tax, lists are first generated, then bills are printed and passed to the Town Collector for distribution. Assessors grant abatements and answer any questions regarding excise tax bills.
Assessors have a major role in promoting effective financial management in the town. By keeping values at the market standard, the assessors assist in maximizing the resources available to fund the municipal services expected by residents.
Valuation in Massachusetts is based upon "full and fair cash value", that is, the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller on the open market. Assessors must collect, record, and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value.
Assessors first inspect each property to record specific features of the land and building(s) that contribute to its value. Size, type and quality of construction, number of rooms, baths, fireplaces, type of heating system - all are examples of the data listed on individual property record cards. Once a house or business building is inspected, the assessor may not need to reinspect for another 6 to 9 years.
Finding the "full and fair cash value", or "market value" of a property involves discovering what similar properties are selling for, what the property would cost today to replace, and what financial factors, such as interest rates may be affecting the real estate market. Valuation techniques for commercial and industrial properties also include analysis from an investment point of view, since the purchase price the buyer is willing to pay depends in part on the return he or she expects to receive.
The assessors do not create value. Rather, they have the legal responsibility to discover and reflect the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.
100% of full and fair cash value.
The courts have defined this phrase to mean "current market value"or the price arrived at by a willing buyer and a willing seller, each with good knowledge of the market and each acting without due pressure or compulsion. Thus, in determining value, assessors seek to approximate what property would sell for on the open market, within an acceptable range of error.
Since assessments must represent market value, rising and declining real estate values in the town will be reflected in assessments. All properties, however, do not change in value to exactly the same degree. Many factors influence values and the value of some properties may be affected by the market more than others.
In Seekonk Tax bills are mailed twice a year. The quarterly tax payments are due on the following dates: August 1st, November 1st, February 1st, May 1st. The bills are sent thirty days prior to these due dates. Payments are due thirty days from the date the tax bill is issued.
Seekonk voted to adopt the CPA on April 6, 2009.
Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, also known as the Community Preservation Act, established a dedicated funding source to acquire and preserve open spaces, parks, and conservation land, protect public drinking water supplies, and scenic areas. Also it protects farm land, and forests from future development, restores and preserves historic properties, and helps meet the housing needs of local families. In Seekonk, beginning in FY 2010, the Community Preservation Act will be funded by an additional tax of 1.25% on the annual tax levied on real property, and by matching funds from the Commonwealth.
The following exemptions shall be permitted: 1) Property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the Town, as defined in Section 2 of said Act:2) the first $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property. Any taxpayer receiving a regular property tax abatement or exemption will also receive a corresponding full or partial reduction in the surcharge.
A Community Preservation Committee composed of local citizens will make recommendations to Town Meeting on the use of the funds and all expenditures will be subject of annual audit.
Although the tax bill will bear the name of the assessed owner as of January 1, the new owner is responsible for all taxes once the sale of the property is finalized. The amount of tax owed by the previous owner is determined at the time of closing and is typically deducted from the selling price. Once this deduction is made, the new owner must pay all bills as they become due in order to avoid collection actions, including foreclosure. The lawyers assisting each party should already have investigated any outstanding taxes and obtained a Municipal Lien Certificate. Once the agreement is made, the new owner is obligated to pay any outstanding taxes due on the property.
This often confuses new owners, but Chapter 59, Section 11, of the Massachusetts General Law reads, "Taxes on real estate shall be assessed, in the town where it lies, to the person who is the owner on January first......." The tax bill will carry the January 1st owner(s) name throughout the entire subsequent fiscal year. The former owners' name will be replaced by the new owner(s) name once the fiscal year has run its cycle.
In order to change a name or trustee's name on a real estate tax bill, the Assessors' Office must receive a copy of a recorded deed or newly recorded trustee document filed at the Bristol County Registry of Deeds or Land Court.
In order to remove a decedent's name from a real estate tax bill, the Assessors' Office requires a recorded copy of a Death Certificate or Inheritance Tax Release of Lien. If the ownership is held as Tenancy by the Entirety or Joint Tenancy, the decedent's name will be removed. If the ownership is Tenancy in Common, the Assessors' Office will make the change once the probate has been finalized.
In the event your name has changed, please provide the Assessors' Office with the appropriately recorded document(s) from the Registry of Deeds or Land Court.
The Assessors' office in the community where the property is located must be notified in writing by the property owner in order to make this change.
In most cases, if the deed has been recorded at least 6 weeks prior to the issue date of the tax bill, the new owner will also receive a copy of the tax bill. If you receive a bill within 6 weeks of the sale, please forward it to the new owner immediately.
You must file between January 1 and February 1 of the tax year or as stated on the tax bill. However, you should ask yourself three questions before filing for an abatement:
The Assessing staff can assist you in determining whether your assessment is fair and equitable.
You must file an application with the Assessors' Office.
Proposition 2½ is a voter initiative law that limits the property tax levy of cities and towns enacted in the 1980 state election. It took effect in fiscal year 1982.
Working with Proposition 2 1/2 presentation