Real Estate Taxes FAQs

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To retrieve an application for abatement of real property tax, click here.

Q: I just purchased property this year. Why is the name(s) of the prior owner still on the tax bill?

A: Property tax assessments are billed on a fiscal year basis, from July 1 to June 30, with an effective date of the previous January 1. This means that the owner as of January 1 should legally appear on the tax bill - for example, for Fiscal Year 2014 the effective date is January 1, 2013. Since the Registry of Deeds has gone on-line, the office keeps track of transfers of property on a weekly basis. The office staff strives to make sure that the new homeowner receives a copy of the bill, but we also ask that new homeowners make sure that they receive a bill and to please contact our office if they don't.

Q: I sold property in Belmont. Why did I receive a tax bill?

A: Similar to the question above, but if the property in Belmont was sold and a tax bill was generated, please either contact us or return the tax bill letting us know that the property has been sold. The office staff strives to make sure that the new homeowner receives the copy of the bill, and, if a previous owner receives the bill, please contact our office so that we may change our records accordingly.

Q: I have received the real estate tax bill, but my name is misspelled. There is a TE or TC or JT between my last name and my first name?

A: For research of ownership by name purposes, the last name of the first owner on the deed is placed before the first name on the real estate tax bill. In between the last name and the first name is a designation as to the type of tenancy and ownership. Examples of tenancy and ownership are:
TE designated for Tenants by the Entirety
TC designated for Tenancy in Common
JT designated for Joint Tenancy
TRS designated for Trust
LE designated for Life Estate
The type of tenancy and ownership is usually found on the deed, and, for tracking of ownership purposes, the type of tenancy and ownership, and therefore designation, becomes part of the ownership record.

Q: I have purchased a condominium but the tax bill is still assessed as a multi-family dwelling?

A: A property which was subdivided or converted to condominiums after January 1 will reflect the property's prior status. Thus, several new owners may be responsible for one tax bill. An apportionment of the tax bill may be requested from the Board of Assessors. A letter must be submitted by the taxpayer to initiate the process; a form to request a condominium apportionment is available on line. Click here to retrieve the form.

Q: How do I change the mailing address on my tax bill(s)?

A: The Assessors' Office will change the mailing address on real estate tax bills with written permission from the owner(s). The written request must include: property address, owners names, new mailing address, signature of owner(s) and date. A form to request a change in mailing address is available on line. Click here to retrieve the form.

Q: If I have questions regarding payment of taxes, whom do I call?

A: Call the Treasurer's Office at 617-993-2770.

Q: Why did my assessment increase when I have done nothing to my property?

A: Assessments must be at market value. To arrive at "full and fair cash value" for a property, the Assessor must know what "willing sellers" and "willing buyers" are doing in the marketplace. The Assessor also must collect, record and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value, including keeping current on cost of construction in the area and any changes in zoning, financing and economic conditions which may affect property values. The Assessor uses the three nationally recognized appraisal approaches to value: cost, income and market. This data is then correlated into a final value.

The object of the valuation program is to estimate "full and fair cash value" as of January 1 (known as the "assessment date") prior to the fiscal year. For example, the assessment date for Fiscal Year 2014 is January 1, 2013.

Q: Why should I let the appraiser or representative from the Assessors' Office into my house for an inspection?

A: Interior inspections are an important part of the Town's assessment process. Just as a potential buyer of real estate inspects the interior of a home before making an offer, the Town can make a better determination of value based upon accurate data by the use of an interior inspection. The result of the inspection can sometimes be beneficial to the taxpayer primarily due to the correction of data that the Assessors' Office has currently existing on the property. Examples of data reviewed are: type of property, size of main house, number of bathrooms, number of extra fixtures, number of fireplaces, whether there is finished area in the attic or basement and how much of it there is, type and size of additions to the main house, the condition overall of the main house and additions, and type, size, and condition of detached buildings (aka outbuildings). There are currently three types of inspections that the Town of Belmont Assessors' Office attempts to process:

  1. Cyclical Inspection - The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) states that assessors must conduct a periodical, cyclical inspection in order to verify and update existing data. The DOR certification guidelines require that all properties be inspected at least once every nine years. The Assessors' Office attempts to inspect 1,000 properties annually on average in the cyclical inspection program, of which there are currently 8,000 properties.
  2. Sales Inspection - The Assessors' Office researches sales within the Town by attempting to inspect the properties that have sold. The properties involved in the sales inspection program are for the properties that sold in the previous calendar year, in other words, the properties that sold in calendar year 2012 were researched for FY2014. The information gathered by doing this research is vital to correctly assess all the properties in Town, as is the goal of all three inspection programs.
  3. Building Permit Inspection - The Assessors' Office also researches building permit applications and thereby attempts to inspect the properties that have been modified, which includes newly constructed properties, properties that have been altered, or properties that have been demolished, with the modification taking place in the previous year (calendar year 2012 building permits effect the FY2014 value). Most of the Town's new growth usually comes from these types of construction activity.

Q: How can my taxes increase?

A: When additional taxes are voted by the people, an individual's property tax bill will increase. Also, when market value increases, naturally, so does the assessed value. If improvements are made to a property, for instance: add a garage, add an additional room, the "full and fair cash value" and, therefore, the assessed value, would also increase. The Assessor has not created the value. People make the value by their transactions in the marketplace. The Assessor simply has the legal and moral responsibility to study those transactions and appraise the property accordingly.

Q: How do I file for an abatement on my FY2014 assessed value?

A: Please click here to launch into the "How to File for an Abatement on Your FY2014 Assessed Value", which includes a link into an abatement application and the assessing database.

Q: When do I file for an abatement?

A: You must file an application on or before the date the first installment payment of the actual tax bill mailed for the fiscal year is due. Applications for omitted, revised or reassessed taxes must be filed within 3 months of the date the bill for those taxes was mailed. These Deadlines Cannot Be Extended Or Waived By The Assessors For Any Reason. If Your Application Is Not Timely Filed, You Lose All Rights To An Abatement And The Assessors Cannot By Law Grant You One. To Be Timely Filed, Your Application Must Be (1) Received By The Assessors On Or Before The Filing Deadline Or (2) Mailed By The United States Mail, First Class Postage Prepaid, To The Proper Address Of The Assessors On Or Before The Filing Deadline As Shown By A Postmark Made By The United States Postal Service.

For Fiscal Year 2014, Abatement Applications Are Due By Monday, February 3, 2014, 4:00 P.M.

Click here to retrieve an abatement application.

Q: What happens if my abatement is approved?

A: You will receive a notice indicating the amount of the abatement. To find out how much your assessment was reduced: divide the abatement by the tax rate.

Q: If my application is denied, what is my recourse?

A: You can file an appeal within 3 months of the date of denial to:
Appellate Tax Board
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA 02114
The Appellate Tax Board's (ATB) phone number is 617-727-3100.
Call the ATB for an application and instructions.

Q: What is Proposition 2 1/2?

A: The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has a booklet available, "Levy Limits: A Primer on Proposition 2 1/2", on their website which is Click here to launch into the booklet.

Q: If I have further questions, whom do I call?

A: Call the Assessors' Office at 617-993-2630.