Community Preservation Act (CPA) FAQs

    

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) was adopted by Belmont voters on November 2, 2010, with the Act to begin funding in FY2012. The Act establishes a Community Preservation Fund financed by property tax surcharges and annual distributions received from the State “Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund”. All funds are to be used to:

  • acquire, create and preserve open space;
  • acquire, preserve, rehabilitate and restore historic resources;
  • acquire, create, preserve, rehabilitate and restore land for recreation use;
  • create, preserve and support community housing; and
  • rehabilitate and restore open space and community housing acquired or created using monies from the fund.

This gives the community the opportunity to determine its priorities, plan for the future, and have the funds to make those plans happen. A Community Preservation Committee composed of local citizens will make recommendations on the use of the funds.

TO RETRIEVE A CPA SURCHARGE EXEMPTION APPLICATION, CLICK HERE.

Questions 
Who pays the surcharge?What are the requirements for a full CPA exemption?
How is the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge calculated?What does the application look like?
When is the surcharge ordinarily billed and due?It says on the application that "documentation may be requested to verify information provided". Should I be supplying a copy of my most recent tax return with the application?
How long will the CPA remain in effect?Can a taxpayer who is eligible to defer their property taxes also defer the CPA surcharge?
Can the level of the CPA surcharge be amended?Are amounts generated by the surcharge subject to the levy limitations of Proposition 2 1/2?
Who determines how the funds raised through the CPA will be spent?Who do I call for further information about the CPA surcharge exemption?
Are there any exemptions to the CPA surcharge?Who do I call for further information about the Community Preservation Fund and the Committee?

 

Who pays the surcharge?

The owners of residential and commercial property pay the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge.

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How is the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge calculated?

For residential property owners, the surcharge is calculated as 1.5% of the product of the net assessed property value and the tax rate. The net assessed property value is the total property value annually established by the Board of Assessors less the $100,000 exemption in value adopted by the Town. Commercial properties are not eligible for the $100,000 exemption. To better understand the CPA surcharge and the formula used to calculate the surcharge, click here.

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When is the surcharge ordinarily billed and due?

The surcharge was imposed on the actual tax bills for FY2012. It was displayed as a separate item on the last two tax bills: due dates of February 1 and May 1.

With the CPA surcharge being effective FY2012, the amount shown on each of the 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills (issued 12/2011 and 03/2012, respectively) reflected the actual surcharge. The actual surcharge was based on the FY2012 tax rate and FY2012 assessed values which were established in the fall of 2011.

The surcharge, subsequently, will be imposed on all preliminary and actual tax bills, in other words effective FY2013. The 1st and 2nd quarter tax bills will be based on 50% of the previous year's CPA surcharge. For example, the surcharge on the 1st and 2nd quarter tax bills for FY2013 will reflect 50% of the FY2012 surcharge. The 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills will reflect the actual surcharge net of estimated 1st and 2nd quarter payments. For example, the actual surcharge on the 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills for FY2013 will be based on the FY2013 tax rate and the FY2013 assessed values which will be established in the fall of 2012.

To better understand the CPA surcharge and the formula used to calculate the surcharge, click here.

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How long will the CPA remain in effect?

CPA remains in effect for a minimum of five years from the date of voter approval in a municipality. After five years, it can be revoked in the same manner to approve the CPA originally – a majority vote of the legislative body and by referendum. The surcharge continues to be assessed, however, until all obligations incurred and funded by the city/town from CPF revenues are paid.

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Can the level of the CPA surcharge be amended?

A city/town may amend the surcharge percentage and exemptions. Amendment is by majority vote of legislative body and by referendum.

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Who determines how the funds raised through the CPA will be spent?

A Community Preservation Committee, consisting of five to nine members and composed of representatives from the conservation commission, historical commission, planning board, board of park commissioners, and the housing authority, is responsible for evaluating the community preservation needs of the city or town and making recommendations to the community’s legislative body as part of the annual budget process. A recommendation by the Community Preservation Committee and an appropriation by the legislative body of the city or town are both required to spend any monies belonging to the fund for particular community preservation purposes.

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Are there any exemptions to the CPA surcharge?

1. All property classified as residential: $100,000 of the value of the property (the CPA residential exemption).

2. Mixed use properties: $100,000 of the residential value of the property or the total residential value of the property if it is lower than $100,000 (the CPA residential exemption).

3. Commercial/Industrial properties: there are no exemptions.

4. Property owned and occupied by person(s) who qualify for the low/moderate income CPA exemption: a full exemption from the surcharge. To receive this exemption, a taxpayer must submit the CPA Low/Moderate Income Exemption Application and must meet the income guidelines established by the State for the size and type of household.

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What are the requirements for a full CPA exemption?

To qualify for this exemption in FY2018, you must meet certain income thresholds as prescribed by state law. The thresholds for FY2018 are based on 2016 income. An application must be completed and filed with the Assessor’s Office.

Supporting documentation is required which will help the Board of Assessors make a determination of your eligibility for this exemption. A birth certificate or current driver’s license must be included with your application. Copies of your 2016 federal and state income tax returns may be requested to verify income for each household member.

For FY2018, age and residence requirements must be met as of January 1, 2017. The income limits for those 60 years and older and those under 60 years are shown on the linked table. Click on More to view the linked table.

Income limits will be revised each year based on the Area-Wide Median Income determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The figures in the FY2018 charts are based on the median income amount issued by HUD on April 14, 2017. The Annual Income Limits are subject to change once the new median income is issued in March/April 2018, to be used for FY2019 filing.

Exemption Amount: A qualified taxpayer receives an exemption of the entire surcharge attributable to the real estate tax assessed on the Class One, Residential, assessed valuation of the parcel, regardless of ownership share or number of residential dwellings.

Note: the filing of an exemption application does not relieve a taxpayer from paying the surcharge while the application is being reviewed. If an application is approved, you will be refunded amounts already paid.

IMPORTANT: An application for exemption from the CPA surcharge must be filed annually with the Assessors' Office.

To see the Annual Income Limit Chart for FY2018, please click here.

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What does the application look like?

To retrieve an application, click here.

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It says on the application that "documentation may be requested to verify information provided". Should I be supplying a copy of my most recent tax return with the application?

Yes. Please provide a copy of the most recent federal tax return with the application.

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Can a taxpayer who is eligible to defer their property taxes also defer the CPA surcharge?

No. The CPA surcharge cannot be deferred.

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Are amounts generated by the surcharge subject to the levy limitations of Proposition 2 1/2?

No. Amounts generated by the surcharge are not subject to the levy limitations of Prop. 2 1/2.

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Who do I call for further information about the CPA surcharge exemption?

Please call our office at 617-993-2630. We are located in the Homer Municipal Building, at 19 Moore Street, First Floor, Belmont, MA 02478.

Office hours are 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday.

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Who do I call for further information about the Community Preservation Fund and the Committee?

Please call the Board of Selectmen's Office at 617-993-2610. The Board of Selectmen's Office is located in the Main Town Hall, at 450 Concord Avenue, First Floor, Belmont, MA 02478. Office hours are 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday.

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