I sold my property and still received a real estate tax bill. What should I do?
By operation of law, the name of the owner of record as of January 1 will appear on the tax bill for the next fiscal year (4 bills per fiscal year). If you sold your property on a date that is close to a tax due date, verify that your mortgage company did not make a tax payment on your behalf in addition to the closing attorney that handled the sale. The new owner should contact the Assessors Office to have his/her name and address added to the tax bill in the c/o field of the address for the remainder of the Fiscal Year. You may return the bill to the Town, forward it to the new owner, or discard the bill. The Tax Collectors Office does not maintain the tax bill address data base as this is an Assessors Office function.
I recently purchased a house in Westwood but the tax bill still has the previous owner's name on it. When will this change?
Mass. General Laws state that the tax bills must retain the owner of record (previous owner) as of January 1 each year. Depending on the date of the purchase, this should change for the first quarter tax bill July 1.
How is my property assessed?
Real estate is assessed by using three different approaches to value, the cost, market, and income approaches. Most residential properties are assessed by comparing the cost and market approaches to value. Our computer appraisal system is based on the cost approach, which means the cost to construct new minus depreciation. These figures are then used to compare the sale prices every year. The ratio between the assessed value and the sale price must be between 90% and 110%. Most real estate in Westwood is generally around 95% of market value. The income and market approach is used to value most commercial properties.
Why does my newly released assessed value not reflect the value of my house today?
On a yearly basis, all communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must adjust and respond to the sales data from the previous year. The Department of Revenue requires that a full year of sales data be analyzed. With valuation approval required by December of each year, sales from the previous year are required. Therefore, an assessed value is a historical value and not a current market value.
Am I required to allow the Assessor to inspect my property?
You have no legal obligation to allow the Assessor to inspect your property unless you apply for an abatement of your property tax. However, for the Assessor to properly perform their duty of applying fair and equitable values to all properties within the community it is imperative that the data they have on each property is accurate. For this reason, the taxpayers' cooperation with the inspection process is very important and greatly appreciated by the Assessor.
What is the fiscal year and what is the effective date for valuation?
The Fiscal Year for the Town of Westwood runs from July 1 st to June 30th and the effective date for valuation is January 1st. The town has also accepted the provisions of Section 40 of Chapter 653 of the Acts of 1989, which allows the town to assess new buildings, structures or other physical improvements added to real property between January second and June thirtieth of each year. Conversely, a property damaged or demolished after January 1st is liable of the tax for the entire fiscal year since it was in place on the assessment date of January 1.
How often do you re-assess properties in Town?
The Assessors Office re-assesses all properties in Town on a yearly basis as mandated by the Department of Revenue. The benefit of this is that the assessments remain relatively close to the real estate market.
What if I disagree with the assessed valuation of my home?
Every taxpayer has the right to file an application for abatement on the value of their house. An application for abatement is a request for the office to review the value of a property. The taxpayer must file this application between the date when the bills are first mailed, sometime in late December, and the date of first actual tax bill, February 1st. The Assessors Office will visit your property and then review the value which was committed. If the property is determined to be over valued, a refund will be issued to the taxpayer. The office has up to 90 days to act on your application.
What is Proposition 2 1/2?
Proposition 2 1/2 is a law that was passed in 1981 that limits the amount that any town within Massachusetts can raise the local tax levy. Proposition 2 1/2 limits the year to year increase of the previous years levy to 2 1/2 percent.
Where can I get a copy of the deed to my property?
Visit the Norfolk Registry of Deeds, 649 High Street, Dedham. Phone (781) 461-6122, Land Court (781) 461-6120.
What is the difference between a real estate tax exemption and an abatement?
An abatement is a decrease in the assessed valuation of a property resulting in a reduction in the yearly real estate taxes. An exemption is a reduction or credit towards the real estate taxes due for a property because of the owner(s) qualifying for one of several available personal exemptions.
Is there a way I can reduce my property taxes?
Personal "exemptions" authorized by the Massachusetts General Laws may provide property tax relief for certain individuals. There are several types of exemptions, including those which apply to the legally blind, veterans who have become disabled as the result of wartime service and have a disability rating of at least 10% surviving spouses, minors whose parent is deceased, persons over 70 years of age, or, in extreme cases, individuals who are aged, infirm and impoverished. The qualification date for all exemptions is July 1st, and each exemption has its own specific requirements. For information on an individual basis, a property owner should call the Assessors Office at (781) 326-1904. Personal or financial data submitted for the purpose of applying for an exemption is not a public record.
Why did I receive a door hanger note indicating that the Assessor has dropped by to inspect my house?
The Assessors office may want to inspect your property for several different reasons. First, all property within the community must be physically reviewed in order to meet state guidelines. This is referred to as a cyclical inspection. The Assessors office also conducts its own inspections after a building permit is issued. These inspections are usually conducted much later then the building department's inspections.