Fewer Taxpayers File for Abatement

February 17, 2013
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Despite an increase in property tax bills and assessed property values for fiscal year 2013 there have been fewer abatements filed so far this year when compared to 2010. The cutoff date to file abatement with the City of Boston’s Accessing Department was February 1 and to date only 2,200 abatements have been filed.

“There were 3,700 abatements filed two years ago in 2010 when the city did its last assessment of property values,” said Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Emilee Ellison.

However, Ellison said the total could rise once abatements postmarked February 1 start to arrive at City Hall.

“These could cause the number to increase,” she said.

Abatement is a reduction of property tax. It may be based on a reduction in the assessed value of taxable property, or a parcel may be exempted completely from the property tax based on ownership and use like a church, for example.

A taxpayer must apply for abatement only for the current fiscal year and only if there is a dispute concerning the property valuation or the property classification. An application cannot be filed on taxes from previous years.

The main reason for abatements are if a property owner feels there is an overvaluation with the assessed value.

Any person to whom the tax has been assessed or the person who acquired a property after January 1 can apply for abatement with the city with an application filed for the current fiscal year.

A denial will be issued in cases where the Assessing Department has made a decision based on the merits of the abatement application, failure of the applicant to file an Information Requisition, or for reasons of inaction in cases where the department has not made a determination on an application within three months of its filing date.

Taxpayers have three months from the date the Assessing Department made the decision to grant or denied an abatement to file an appeal.

With the tax property tax bill rising and a reevaluation of homes in the city due to the increase stability of the housing market, some thought abatements would be up this year.

For FY13 the single-family home tax bill in Boston has climbed more than 5 percent. However, an increase in residential exemption will help Boston residents alleviate the sting.

The average tax bill for a single-family home spiked to $3,480, marking a $175 increase over the previous fiscal year, while the residential tax exemption for owner-occupied properties, rose to $1,724.47 from $1,644.28 last year.

The residential tax rate rose to $13.14 per $1,000 valuation – a 0.8 percent increase above last year’s rate of $13.04 – as the commercial tax rate grew by 0.1 percent, or $0.04, to $31.96.

These modifications are reflected third-quarter tax bills, which were mailed in December and are payable Feb. 1.

For FY13, the city’s total taxable value rose to $92.2 billion – an increase of $3.7 billion, or 4.2 percent, from the previous year. Residential value increased by $2.6 billion or 4.6 percent, while the commercial property value rose $1.1 billion or 3.5 percent, including new growth.