If You Disagree with Your Assessment, File for an Abatement

There is no perfect assessment process, and from time to time errors of fact or judgment will occur.  That is why the state provides for hearings and an abatement process.  The process allows taxpayers to present arguments, supported by sales data, that their assessments are too high or that they have been disproportionately assessed.
Abatements are granted only for the current fiscal year, so you must file an abatement request for each fiscal year that you disagree with your assessment.  If an abatement request is granted in order to correct an error on the property record card, you will not need to reapply for an abatement the following year.

Filing for an Abatement

Abatement applications must be filed with the Assessors Office on or before February 1st.  If you think your property has been incorrectly assessed, you should file an official application for abatement form (available at the Assessors’ Office). Applications are not considered received until the Assessors Office has them in hand or it is postmarked, February 1st, with a postmark made by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and must be mailed to the property address of the Assessors Office, 1 Sylvan Street, Danvers, MA 01923.  The last day to file also appears on your December tax bill (third quarter tax bill).  Applications can only be filed on your 3rd quarter bill.

Data entry errors will be corrected although an abatement request is still necessary.  An inspection of your property is required to determine whether there is a data error on the property record card.  If you decide to proceed with an abatement request, you will need information about other comparable properties in Danvers.  Comparables are properties that are similar to your property.

To succeed with an abatement request, you must have specific, objective information about “comparables.”  You must show that comparables are assessed at values lower than your assessed value.  Begin by finding recently sold properties in Danvers that have characteristics that are similar to yours.  They should be in the same style and in the same neighborhood if possible. You can locate comparable properties using data online at www.patriotproperties.com or at the Assessors’ Office.

Note

If you want a hearing, be sure to ask for one on the official abatement form.  You will have to add this request since it is not on the form.  The Assessors’ Office will contact you with a proposed hearing date.  After the Board has reviewed your request for abatement, they will send you their official written decision.  If you are dissatisfied with the Board’s decision, you may appeal to the state’s Appellate Tax Board (617-727-3100).

 

Quarterly Billing
For any fiscal year the assessment date is January 1 of the previous year. The assessors determine the value and the owner of each parcel as of the assessment date. State law mandates that the owner as of this date must appear on each of the four bills. Subsequent owners can be billed in a "care of" fashion.

Preliminary Bills
Preliminary bills will be mailed on or about July 1 (first quarter) and October 1 (second quarter). These bills indicate an amount due only which is one quarter of the previous year's net tax.

  • How to calculate your preliminary bill: Divide the total amount billed for the prior fiscal year, less any exemptions and/or abatements, by two. This amount is your preliminary tax and is payable in two equal installments.

Actual Bills
Actual bills will be mailed on or about January 1 (third quarter) and April 1 (fourth quarter). These bills will show the assessed value of your property, the tax rate, the total amount of taxes due for the fiscal year, including the Community Preservation Act, and any betterments or liens. The fourth quarter bill concludes the fiscal year billing cycle.

  • How to calculate your actual bill: Multiply the assessed value by the applicable tax rate and divide by 1,000. Add any additional charges, subtract the two preliminary payments made and divide the remainder by two. Your actual bills are payable in two equal installments.

Click the  “Patriot Properties-Property Assessment Data” link on the Assessing Department page.

One of the most misunderstood concepts of municipal taxation is the meaning of Proposition 2 ½.  This legislative initiative was enacted in 1980 to limit the increases of property taxes in Massachusetts.  Proposition 2 ½ has performed its tax limiting function since then in the following manner.

1)      A community cannot raise more than 2 ½ % of last years levy limit plus new growth or override or debt exclusion amounts. A community therefore must live within the increases prescribed by 2 ½ or a community can opt to attempt to pass an override or debt exclusion by successful voting at the polls.  This gives voters control over how much property tax they are willing to pay.

2)      A community cannot raise more in taxes than an amount greater than 2 ½ % of the total community value.  This is known as the levy ceiling.  Even a tax override cannot exceed this amount. A community is therefore bound by two “2 ½’s” – 2 ½% of last years levy limit or if a community is nearing its levy ceiling, an amount no greater than 2 ½ % of the total community value.

Determining Values

Assessors are required to determine values in accordance with Mass Appraisal Methods.  A market analysis is conducted each year using property sales data from the 12-24 months prior to the assessment date for the given fiscal year.  It is important to note that the Assessors must value property as of the January 1st which precedes the start of the fiscal year.  The assessed value, which first appears on the 3rd quarter tax bill, is based on the previous January 1 and sales from the year before that.  This may cause confusion to taxpayers who see properties selling today which seem to reflect a different market.  A fee appraiser would typically value your property as of the current date of inspection.

There are three approaches to value:  Sales comparison, cost approach and income approach.  The most commonly used approach is the sales comparison.  The cost approach is based on replacement cost of a structure as if it were built new today (not at the time it was built), less depreciation.  The income approach is based on an analysis of income and expense information and can be utilized as a valuation method for revenue generating properties.

Explanation of Abatement: Reduction in Taxes

An abatement is a reduction is the tax assessed on your property for the fiscal year.  You may apply for an abatement if you believe your property is: Overvalued, Disproportionately Assessed, Classified Incorrectly or Partially or Fully Exempt.

If a taxpayer does not agree with the assessed valuation of their property, the first step would be to talk to an Assessor and review their property record card.  After speaking with an Assessor, if the taxpayer still disagrees with the assessment, an abatement application must be completed in full and timely filed.

Instruction are provided on the back of the Abatement Application.  It is important to note that the assessed value shown on the tax bill is based upon an assessment date of the previous January 1; not the date when the tax bill is received.

The Assessors are prevented by law from granting abatements unless timely filed. The application must be post marked no earlier than January 1st or received in the Assessors Office no later than February 1st.

The Assessors have three months, from the date the abatement application is filed, to take action. You will receive written notification of the decision.

 

FY 2017 TAX RATE:

RES:  $14.19

CIP:   $21.83

You can pay taxes in person by visiting the Treasurer’s office on the first floor of Town Hall; by mailing payment to the Treasurer’s Office, 1 Sylvan Street, Danvers, MA 01923 or online.

You can pay taxes in person by visiting the Treasurer’s office on the first floor of Town Hall; by mailing payment to the Treasurer’s Office, 1 Sylvan Street, Danvers, MA 01923 or online.

You may obtain a municipal lien certificate (MLC) by visiting the Office of the Treasurer/ Tax Collector during normal business hours or by mailing your request along with the $50 fee and a self-addressed stamped envelope to “Treasurer/Tax Collector”, Danvers Town Hall, 1 Sylvan Street, Danvers, MA 01923.

 

 

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