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Real Estate and Personal Property taxes are a source of revenue for all cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They are assessed for a fiscal year, which runs from July 1st of one year to June 30th of the succeeding year.
The tax rate is determined by dividing the net appropriations raised at town meeting by the taxable valuation of the Town. This rate is defined on a per thousand dollar basis and is then multiplied by the assessed full and fair valuation of property.
Voters in Dover chose to issue tax bills four times a year. The first two payments (Preliminary Bills), which are due on August 1st and November 1st, reflect one quarter of the net taxes paid in the previous fiscal year and, by statute, may be increased by 2.5% annually. In November, property valuations are finalized and the tax rate is calculated.
The final two payments (Actual Bills) are determined by subtracting the preliminary payments from the total taxes and dividing by two. These bills are due on February 1st and May 1st.
The assessment date for ownership is January 1st, which is six months prior to the start of a new fiscal year (FY). In your case, the property was assessed to the owner of record on January 1, 2019. That assessment date applies for all of FY 2020 and the ownership may not be changed until January 1, 2020, which will affect bills issued for FY 2021.
As a courtesy, the Tax Collector has historically sent a copy of the bill to the new owner. Unfortunately, it takes about a month for the Assessors to be notified by the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds of a conveyance. If your deed was sent to the Assessors after the bills were issued, it is likely that you did not receive a copy of the bill currently due. Usually attorneys will remind you of the impending tax bill at the closing of the property, or your mortgage lender will escrow the amount needed for the next payment and take responsibility for making it.
All property is assessed on the basis of its full and fair market value as of January 1st. Data related to the sale of property is gathered, analyzed, and then applied to our database to estimate the market value. The process of determining assessed value is the same as an appraiser would utilize for a fee appraisal, although the Assessors must also ensure that assessments are uniform among all the properties in town.
Because our assessment date is January 1st, sales used to estimate the fair market value of property likely occurred in the prior calendar year. In spite of the fact that assessments are updated on an annual basis, by the time the May bill is mailed, sales used in the valuation process could be as much as a year old. In some instances, the factors in our database that describe the property are incorrect. This can result from human error or the lack of an interior inspection.
Once the actual tax bills have been issued in December, a property owner may submit an application for abatement to the Board of Assessors. This application must be filed by the statutory deadline of February 1st and should include all the reasons the property owner feels the value is incorrect. A recent appraisal or information concerning other similar properties that are assessed lower than the property in question may also be included.
The Assessors will review the application and make a visit to the property to measure and inspect the building or view the land. If an abatement is granted, it will be applied to the May 1st bill or, in cases where the taxes are paid in full, a refund will be issued. If a property owner is not satisfied with the Assessors’ decision, he or she may appeal the determination at the Appellate Tax Board in Boston.
Personal "exemptions" authorized by the Massachusetts General Laws may provide property tax relief for certain individuals. There are several types of exemption, including:
The qualification date for all exemptions is July 1st, and each exemption has its own specific requirements. For information on an individual basis, a property owner should contact the Assessors or refer to the back of the tax bill. Personal or financial data submitted for the purpose of applying for an exemption is not a public record.
Motor vehicle excise tax is assessed on a calendar year basis on all vehicles and trailers registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, unless they are exempted under the provision of Chapter 60A of the Massachusetts General Laws. The rate of taxation is $25 per thousand dollars of valuation, and the value is based on the manufacturer’s list price when the vehicle was new.
The list price is depreciated annually by a statutory percentage, until the vehicle or trailer reaches five years of age. At that time, the valuation will have reached 10% of the list price. As long as the vehicle is registered, the valuation will remain at 10%, despite the condition or utility of the vehicle.
Excise tax is apportioned on a monthly basis on vehicles registered after January 1st or disposed of before the end of the year.
When a vehicle is overvalued or sold, traded in, or moved out of state, an abatement application must be filed with the Board of Assessors so a refund can be generated. The disposition of the vehicle and the disposition of the registration must be documented before an abatement can be processed in the case of a sale, trade-in or a move out of state. The manufacturer’s list price must be documented in cases of overvaluation.
The excise tax paid on one vehicle cannot be transferred to another vehicle. By state law, no abatement of less than $5 can be processed, and no excise tax can be reduced to less than $5.