Real Estate FAQs
- What do the Assessors do?
Real and Personal Property:
- Assessors are governed by Massachusetts General Laws to value all real and personal property.
- The Assessors perform the duties of valuing property with in-office staff and on occasion with the assistance of an outside appraisal firm who may assist in completing the field review of the community.
- Every year the Assessors are required to submit a tax rate recapitulation summary (recap sheet) for approval by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue prior to mailing the actual tax bill at the end of each calendar year.
- Every three years the Massachusetts Department of Revenue visits the Community to recertify the value of the town by doing a field and data review of the community in an attempt to maintain equitable values.
Motor Vehicle Excise:
- Assessors are responsible for committing the motor vehicle excise tax bill to the Collector of Taxes.
- The motor vehicle excise information which generates the bill originates with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles who updates their records according to the registration of the vehicle.
- Assessors are responsible for abating motor vehicle excise (see Motor Vehicle FAQs).
- What can the Assessors not do?
- The Assessors do not make laws but are governed by them.
- The Assessors do not determine the tax amount of a real or personal property tax bill but do establish assessments based on current market value.
- The Assessors do not have discretion in who is entitled to an Exemption of property tax but do review exemption applications in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws chapter 59 § 5 which states the qualification requirements for exemption.
- Who do I call if I question the real estate tax amount?
Questions about your current tax payments, unpaid tax balances and/or overpayments contact the Collector's Office at 508-747-1620, ext. 10291.
- I am a new owner and the previous owner's name is on my tax bill what do I do?
Massachusetts State Law requires the bill to be issued to the record owner as of each January 1.
Massachusetts General Law chapter 59 section 11 reads, "Taxes on real estate shall be assessed, in the town where it lies, to the person who is the owner on January first....."
Example: Purchase date January 2, 2021, the bill will be issued in prior owners name care of the new owner until June 30, 2022. The July 1, 2022 preliminary bill will reflect the new owner's name for the first time.
Note: Contacting the Assessors' office will aid us in putting your name on as a "care of".
Exception: Current recorded subdivision plan. All subdivision plans are assessed as they are on January 1 each year. We are unable to make any changes to the ownership or division of the lots until the following fiscal year.
- How do I change my mailing address on my bill?
One of four ways:
- Submit your request in writing to the Assessors Office.
- Download the change of address form. Once complete return form to the Assessors Office.
- Come into the Assessors Office to complete the change of address form.
- Call the Assessors' Office to change the address.
- What is the Assessment?
The assessed value (or assessment) is the value of property to be used for local taxation, as determined by the Assessors according to Massachusetts law and regulations set by the Commissioner of Revenue.
- How is the assessment determined?
Valuation in Massachusetts is based on "full and fair cash value," the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller on the open market. Assessors must collect, record, and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value of all taxable properties in their communities. Properties such as churches and educational institutions are also valued even though they are exempt from taxation.
Assessors first inspect each property to record specific features of the land and building(s) that contribute to its value. Size, type, and quality of construction, number of baths, fireplaces, type of heating system - all are examples of the data listed on individual property record cards before the valuation process can begin.
Finding the full and fair cash value or market value of a property involves discovering what similar properties are selling for, what the property would cost today to replace and what financial factors, such as interest rates, may be affecting the real estate market.
Valuation techniques for commercial and industrial properties also include analysis from an investment point of view, since the purchase price the buyer is willing to pay depends in part on the return he expects to receive.
The Assessor does not create value. Rather, he/she has the legal responsibility to discover and reflect the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.
- Why do Assessments go up when a property has changed?
Since assessments must be set at market value, rising real estate values in the community will be reflected in generally higher assessments. All properties, however, do not change in value to exactly the same degree. Many factors influence values and the value of some properties – for example, those with water views may increase more rapidly than others.
- What if you disagree with the Assessed value?
If, in your opinion, the assessment of your property is too high, by all means, discuss this with the Board of Assessors. When you receive notice of a new value, you may make an appointment to talk with the Assessors. In meeting with them, you will want to be specific about why you disagree. Is there some misinformation on the property record card? Do you find values of comparable properties lower than yours? If so, it is helpful to cite specific examples.
Information on all the assessments in the community is available in the Assessors' Office. The appeal process is described on the tax bill.
- What is the process to file an overvaluation abatement application?
If you believe that your value is too high, and need to file an overvaluation abatement in the Assessors Office by the due date of the 3rd Qtr. Tax Bill. If your application is received any time after the due date, it is considered late with the following exception. Note that abatement applications will be considered as filed timely if they are received in the mail after February 1 but have a postmark on the envelope of no later than February 1. This "postmark" rule applies only to those applications mailed to the proper address of the Assessors, first-class postage prepaid, with postmarks made by the United States Postal Service.
If the application is late, the Board of Assessors loses its jurisdiction to abate the bill. At that point, nothing can be done for the year in question. There are no exceptions.
After you file, you will be contacted by the Assessors Office to arrange for a complete interior and exterior inspection of your property. The inspection is an important part of our review of your application. If you refuse the inspection, the Board of Assessors will simply disallow your application. You will receive written notice regarding your application no later than three months after you file your application in the Assessors Office.
Please note that the tax bill is due and payable by the payment due date noted on the tax bill even if you file an overvaluation application. If you do receive an overvaluation abatement, the full amount will show as a credit on the fourth quarter or as a refund.
- How do I file an abatement application?
You must file an application by the due date of the 3rd quarter Actual Tax Bill at the Assessor's Office on the second floor of Town Hall. Before you file, you should ask yourself three questions:
- Is the data on my property correct?
- Is my value in line with others on my street?
- Is my assessed value in line with sale prices in my neighborhood for the relevant time period?
Remember that dissatisfaction with the amount of valuation increase and the resulting tax dollar increase is not grounds for receiving an overvaluation application. Filing an overvaluation application does not stay the collection of taxes. You must still pay your tax bill by the due date.
You may mail your application to:
Plymouth Board of Assessors
26 Court Street
Plymouth, MA 02360.
Please note that this summary serves as a guide and is not intended to answer every question or address every issue.
Please feel free to call the Assessors office at 508-747-1620, ext. 10296.