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One of the most misunderstood concepts of municipal taxation is the meaning of Proposition 2 1/2. This legislative initiative was enacted in 1980 to limit the increases of property taxes in Massachusetts. Proposition 2 1/2 has performed its tax limiting function since then in the following manner.
1) A community cannot raise more than 2 1/2 % 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 1/2 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 1/2% 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 1/2's" minus 2 1/2% of last years levy limit or if a community is nearing its levy ceiling, an amount no greater than 2 1/2 % of the total community value.
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 (PDF). 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.
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 with UniPay.
Assessed values in Massachusetts are based on “full and fair cash value,” or 100 percent of the fair market value as of January 1 of each year. To arrive at “full and fair cash value,” the Assessors interpret the real estate market by analyzing property sales. This involves an analysis of market activity by each class of property. Assessors are required to submit these values to the Commonwealth's Department of Revenue for certification every five years. In the interim years, Assessors must also analyze the real estate market and perform adjustments to values as needed. This requirement ensures each property owner 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 five years. Notably, our Assessments differ from an independent appraiser's due to the appraisal methods required under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 and the time period captured in our assessments.