Property Tax General Information

GENERAL INFORMATION


1. WHAT DOES THE ASSESSOR DO?

The Assessors are required by Massachusetts Law to list and value all real and personal property. The valuations are subject to ad valorem taxation on the assessment roll each year. The "ad valorem" basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed "according to value", which is the definition of ad valorem. Assessed values in Massachusetts are based on "full and fair cash value," or 100 percent of fair market value.

Assessors are required to submit these values to the State Department of Revenue for certification every three years. Our next recertification year will be for Fiscal Year 2015. In the years between certification, Assessors are required to do interim adjustments and maintain the values. The Board of Assessors reviews sales and the market every year and thereby reassesses various areas of the City each and every year where the need is indicated. This is done so that the property taxpayer pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government, in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth, on a yearly basis rather than every three years.

With the certification of values for Fiscal Year 2011, the Department of Revenue recommended that the Board of Assessors to do a complete remeasure and relisting of all properties in the City. This will include an internal inspection of all properties in the City.

The Quincy Assessors Office must appraise and assess approximately 27,000 parcels of real estate and 2,700 personal property accounts. In addition, the Department administers the Motor Vehicle and Boat Excise taxes.

2. WHAT THE ASSESSOR DOES NOT DO

The Assessor does not raise or lower taxes. The Assessor does not make the laws which affect property owners. The Massachusetts Constitution requires that direct taxes on persons be proportionately and reasonably imposed, In addition, the Declaration of Rights, Part I, Article 10, requires each individual to bear his fair share of the public expenses.

The Board of Assessors is required to annually assess taxes in an amount sufficient to cover the State and Local appropriations chargeable to the City. These taxes assessed will include State and County assessments which have been duly certified to the Board, and City appropriations voted by the City Council.

The Assessors Office has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected. The Assessor's primary responsibility is to find the "full and fair cash value" of your property, so that you may pay only your fair share of the taxes. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within the City, and is the basis for the budget needed to provide services, such as schools, roads, fire, law enforcement, etc.. The tax rates are simply those rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.

3. WHAT IS PROPOSITION 2 ½?

Proposition 2 ½ places constraints on the amount of the levy (money raised by taxes) raised by the City and on how much the levy can be increased from year to year by the City. It provides the City with annual increases in their levy limits of : (1) 2.5 percent, and (2) an additional amount based on the valuation of certain new construction and other allowable growth in the tax base that is not the result of property revaluation ("new growth"). In no event may the levy limit exceed the levy ceiling of 2.5 percent of the total full and fair cash value of the City.

ABATEMENT APPLICATIONS


4. HOW IS YOUR ASSESSMENT DETERMINED?

To arrive at "full and fair cash value" for your property, the Assessors must know what "willing sellers" and "willing buyers" are doing in the market place. The Assessor also must collect, record and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value, including keeping current on the cost of construction in the area and any changes in zoning, financing and economic conditions which may affect property values. The Assessor uses the three nationally recognized appraisal approaches to value: cost, income and market. This data is then correlated into a final value.

The object of the revaluation program is to estimate "full and fair cash value" as of January 1 (known as the "assessment date") prior to the fiscal year that starts on July 1. For example, the assessment date for Fiscal Year 2013 is January 1, 2012 and the Fiscal Year goes from July 1, 2012 through to June 30, 2013.

5. HOW CAN MY TAXES INCREASE?

When additional appropriations are voted by the City Council, an individual's property tax bill may increase. Also, when market value increases, naturally, so does the assessed value. If you were to make improvements to your existing property, for instance: add a garage or add an additional room, the "full and fair cash value" and therefore the assessed value would also increase. The Assessor has not created the value. People make the value by their transactions in the market place. The Assessor simply has the legal and moral responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.

6. WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH THE ASSESSED VALUE OF MY PROPERTY?

If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessed value, by all means go to the Assessor's office and collect pertinent data to support your opinion. The Board of Assessors will be glad to answer your questions about the reassessment procedures. When questioning the assessed value, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my data correct?
  2. Is my value in line with others on the street?
  3. Is my value in line with prior calendar year sale prices in my neighborhood?

Keep in mind what's important: sale prices of the prior calendar year, condition, neighborhood, building area and lot area are the most critical factors in the valuation process. There is a variety of information available to help you determine whether your assessment is fair and equitable. The Assessors and their staff will be happy to assist you.

If after discussing the matter with the Assessors or their staff, and researching the assessments of comparable properties within your area, a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal your assessment to the Board of Assessors by filing an abatement application.

The City of Quincy is on quarterly tax bills. The first two bills issued are preliminary tax payments based on your prior year's taxes. The notice of the third payment, referred to as the "actual tax bill" is when the filing period for abatement applications commences. The third tax bill (actual bill) is usually issued the end of December. The application for abatement must be filed with the Board of Assessors no later than February 1, or have a United States post office postmark of no later than February l. The information regarding the filing of abatement or exemption applications is also on your tax bill. The application must be on file in the Assessor's office or have a United States post office post mark as of that date.

You are appealing your assessment, not your taxes.

You must pay your taxes pending your appeal.

Wish to appeal? The application is easy, but...Make a case...Give reasons. We do respond to your specific concerns and comparisons.

Once the application is time-stamped by the Assessor's Office, it cannot be added to, changed or withdrawn - it is accepted as is, once it is stamped with the date, time and "Received by the Board of Assessors". The Board of Assessors will accept an addendum with additional information and attach it to the application, if necessary.

If you have a question, please come in for an application or contact the Assessors Office and an application will be mailed to you. Applications are not available until after the third or actual tax bills are mailed. All applications for abatements and exemptions are now online and can be printed from the computer from the City's website: www.quincyMA.gov

Abatement denied
You will receive a notice indicating your application was denied.

You may call and set up an appointment to meet with the Board of Assessors to discuss the reason for the denial.

Or, you may appeal to the State Appellate Tax Board (ATB) within three months of the date of the Assessors decision.

Abatement approved
You will receive an abatement certificate indicating the amount of the abatement.

How much was the value indicated by the abatement? Divide the tax abatement by the tax rate. Your abatement will normally be credited towards your Fourth payment or Spring tax bill. If your abatement is granted after your bill is paid in full, you will automatically receive a refund check.

ATTENTION: NEW HOMEOWNERS!!

Keep in mind that the assessment date is January 1, as it affects your ownership status. The property is legally assessed to the owner as of January 1, but make sure you get a bill! You may be entitled to file an application for abatement if you dispute your value. Or you may be entitled to file an application for one of the statutory exemptions that are available, providing you own, occupy and otherwise qualify as of July 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year.

NOTE:
The Board of Assessors oftentimes receives requests from taxpayers to mail their tax bill directly to their mortgage company or bank. If asked, this will be done. However, we do not advise it. If the tax bill goes directly to the mortgage company or bank, the taxpayer will not be aware of what their property valuation is or what taxes are due. They will find this out when the bank or mortgage company requests more money for their escrow account. By this time, if they have a question on their valuation or taxes, the filing period for abatement applications will have passed and they will be unable to appeal their value or taxes.

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