An abatement is a reduction in the tax assessed on your property for the fiscal year.  

Please note:  To dispute your valuation or assessment or to correct any other billing problem or error that caused your tax bill to be higher than it should be, you must apply for an abatement.  In some cases, you must pay all or a portion of the tax before you can apply.

You may apply for an abatement if your property is:

  • overvalued (assessed value is more than fair cash value on January 1 for any reason, including clerical and data processing errors or assessment of property that is non-existent or not taxable to you)
  • disproportionately assessed in comparison with other properties
  • classified incorrectly as residential, open space, commercial or industrial real property
  • partially or fully exempt

You may file an application if you are:

  • the assessed or subsequent (acquiring title after January 1) owner of the property
  • the owner’s administrator or executor
  • a tenant paying rent who is obligated to pay more than one-half the tax
  • a person owning or having an interest in or possession of the property
  • a mortgagee if the assessed owner has not applied.

Your abatement application must be filed with the Board of Assessors on or before the date the first installment payment of the actual tax bill (issued after the tax rate is set) mailed for the fiscal year is due.  Applications filed for omitted, revised or reassessed taxes must be filed within 3 months of the date the bill for those taxes were mailed.

Important note:  These deadlines cannot be extended or waived by the Assessors for any reason.  If your application is not filed timely, you lose all rights to an abatement and the Assessors cannot, by law, grant you one.  An application is considered filed on the date it is received by the Assessors.

Filing an application does not stay the collection of your taxes.  In some cases, you must pay the tax when due to appeal the Assessors’ disposition of your application.  Failure to pay the tax assessed when due may also subject you to interest and charges and to collection action.  To avoid any loss of rights or additional charges, you should pay the tax as assessed.  If an abatement is granted and you have already paid the entire year’s tax, you will receive a refund of any overpayment.

*Personal Property Owners: Please be advised that if you own personal property as of January 1, 2020 you are liable for Fiscal Year 2021 taxes, including the third and fourth quarter, payable February 1, 2021 and May 1, 2021.   

Massachusetts General Law Ch. 59 Sec.18 provides that tangible personal property taxes shall be assessed to the owner of record as of January 1st.  The Supreme Judicial Court has held in all cases that the question of ownership relates to the date when status of property is ascertained for the current year.  It is further held that taxes as assessed annually, not however, for a period of time but as a fixed day and that it is immaterial if the property has been sold, destroyed or removed.  Therefore the tax is due and payable for the entire Fiscal Year. 

Assessor’s Disposition:  Upon applying for an abatement, you may be asked to provide the Assessors with written information about the property and to permit them to inspect it.  Failure to provide the information or permit an inspection within 30 days of the request may result in the loss of your appeal rights.  The Assessors have 3 months from the date your application is filed to act on it unless you agree in writing before that period expires to extend it for a specific time.  If the Assessors do not act on your application within 3 months the application is deemed denied.