Ask the Assessor

Question: “I am a veteran.  Are there any exemptions available for me?”

Yes.  An exemption releases a taxpayer from the legal obligation to pay all or a portion of the property tax assessed for the fiscal year.  Holliston provides more than a dozen different veteran’s exemptions that range from $800 up to the full amount of property taxes owed, as authorized under various clauses of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, Section 5 (M.G.L. c. 59, § 5).  

Information about these exemptions is available on the Assessors page ( of the town’s website.  Click on the “Exemption for Veterans” button on the left side of the page.  

Here is some basic information about applying for a veteran’s exemption:

 “Veterans” are defined as individuals who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States for certain time periods during peace or wartime eras and were discharged from military service.  Their last discharge or release must have been under other than dishonorable conditions.

Veterans must file an application for each fiscal year in order to receive an exemption.  If you are already receiving an exemption, the Assessors’ Office will mail you a new application before the July 1st start of the new fiscal year.  If you have not received an exemption before, applications are available on the Assessors web page and at the Assessors’ Office in Town Hall.  Please call us at 508-429-0604 if you have any questions about eligibility or about applying.

Applications can be submitted between the July 1st start of the fiscal year up until April 1st of the following calendar year (or three months after the “actual” tax bills are mailed, whichever date is later).  Filing on time is required: Assessors may not waive this filing deadline, nor act on a late application, for any reason. Also, filing an application does not entitle you to delay your tax payments.

You must provide the Assessors with whatever information is reasonably required to establish eligibility. This information may include, but is not limited to: (1) Evidence of residency, ownership, domicile and occupancy as of July 1st and (2) Certification of a service-connected disability or death from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or branch of U.S. military service from which discharged or in which served.

Veterans must have (1) been domiciled in Massachusetts for at least six consecutive months before entering military service, or (2) lived in Massachusetts for at least two consecutive years before the tax year begins.

Veterans must occupy the property as their domicile.  If you are a spouse of a veteran, you and the veteran must occupy the property as your domicile.  Your domicile is where your principal and legal home is located; your family, social, civic and economic life is centered; and, you plan to return to whenever you are away.  You may have more than one residence, but only one domicile.

You must own the property: (1) Your ownership interest must be worth at least an amount ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the exemption.  You may own this interest solely, as a joint owner or as a tenant in common. (2) If you hold a life estate in the domicile, you are the owner. (3) If your domicile is held in a trust, you are the owner only if: (a) You are a trustee or co-trustee of that trust, and (b) You have a sufficient beneficial interest in the domicile.

If the Assessors decide you are eligible and grant an exemption, the amount granted is credited toward, and reduces the tax assessed on, your domicile for that fiscal year.  You will only receive a refund if the entire tax for the year has already been paid at the time the exemption is granted.  

With limited exceptions, you may only receive one exemption under M.G.L. c. 59, § 5 for each fiscal year.  If you qualify for more than one, you will receive the one that provides the greatest benefit.  You may receive an exemption and, if qualified, defer all or a part of the balance of the reduced tax.  

If you are selling your domicile, you should make your attorney aware that you receive a property tax exemption that reduces the tax owed for the fiscal year.  The sale is a private financial transaction and, as a party, you are responsible for seeing that the exemption is properly credited at the closing – through escrow or other arrangements when the parties calculate adjustments for local property taxes or charges.  The town is not responsible for seeing that you and the buyer allocate the property taxes so you get the benefit of the exemption.  

Next Article: “Why do I have to wait until late December to find out my new valuation and the new property tax rate?”

Kevin Rudden

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