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Massachusetts Property Tax Alert: February 1st Deadline to Request a Refund for Most Municipalities

February 1 is the deadline to challenge your Massachusetts property taxes for most municipalities. If you wait until Punxsutawney Phil emerges from Gobbler’s Knob to look for his shadow, you are too late. Under the law the deadline to file an application for an abatement with the local assessors is on or before the due date of the tax bill. The tax bill should indicate the due date of the tax bill and the deadline for filing an abatement. As most communities bill quarterly, this deadline is generally February 1. For communities that bill twice a year, the deadline is generally 30 days from the mailing of the tax bill.

Should you pay your taxes while challenging your assessed value?

Massachusetts requires taxpayers to pay their taxes on time in order to request abatement. Not only is the most recent tax bill required to be paid on time in order to preserve a taxpayer’s right to challenge an assessment, but all the quarterly or semi-annual payments must be paid on time.

What is the abatement process?

The abatement process is the process a property owner requests a refund of property taxes with the local assessor, and if unsuccessful, with the Appellate Tax Board (ATB). Generally, in order to be granted a refund, a taxpayer must prove the assessed value is greater than the fair market value.

A taxpayer must file an application for abatement on time and on the approved form with the local assessors in order for the assessors to consider the abatement request and to preserve the taxpayer’s right of appeal to the ATB. The approved forms are available at the local board of assessors’ office. The local assessors then have three months to act on an abatement application. Within that three months, they may either (1) deny the application; (2) grant an abatement, including a partial abatement; or (3) take no action on the application. If the assessors take no action on the application, the application is deemed denied after three months from the filing of the abatement.

A taxpayer may appeal the denial of an abatement or partial abatement to the ATB within three months of the date of the action of the assessors, not the date of the mailing of the notice of action. If the application is deemed denied, the assessor is required to give notice of the deemed denial. A taxpayer may appeal the deemed denial within three months of the date of the deemed denial or six months from the date of the filing of the application for abatement. A filing fee is required for appeal to the ATB based on the value of the property being appealed.

Allobar Strategies provides professional assistance in evaluating the fairness of property tax assessments. If you would like assistance with an evaluation of your property tax, please visit Allobar Strategies or call (603) 333-2211.

By: John F. Hayes, Esq., General Counsel to Allobar Strategies.

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