Why do I only have one month’s time to ask for an abatement on my property value?

That period is set by state law: M.G.L. c. 59, §§ 59-69 spells out the entire abatement process, including the close of business day deadline at 4:30 p.m. on February 1st.

So, what is an abatement?  Simply put, it is a reduction in the amount of property taxes owed to the town for a particular piece of property.  A taxpayer may apply for an abatement for abatement for these reasons:

  • Overvaluation: The taxpayer disagrees with the Assessors’ appraisal of the fair cash value of the property or believes the valuation reflects a data or other error.
  • Disproportionate Assessment – The taxpayer believes that the property is valued at a higher percentage of fair cash value than other similar properties due to an intentional, discriminatory assessment policy.
  • Misclassification of Real Property – If the community has multiple tax rates [Holliston does not] and the taxpayer believes the property is not properly classified (e.g., the property should be classified as residential, not commercial, and be taxed at the lower residential rate).
  • Statutory Exemption – The taxpayer believes an exemption applies based on the ownership or use of the property.

To apply for an abatement, a taxpayer must file an application with the Assessors on a form approved by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR).  This form is available on the Assessors’ page of the Town of Holliston’s website. Look at the column of items on the left side of the page and click on “Real Estate Abatement Application.”

If you need help in filling out this application, contact the Assessors’ Office staff.

Also, please remember that the new Fiscal Year 2024 valuations are based on actual real estate sales in Holliston during calendar year 2022 – not other time periods.

If you do apply for abatement and the locally elected Board of Assessors – which has 90 days to act upon it – denies your request, you also have the right to appeal that decision to the state’s Appellate Tax Board.  The Assessor’s Office staff will provide you with information about going to that next level of appeal.

The current property tax classification and taxation system used in Massachusetts directly derives from the so-called “Proposition 2 ½” ballot question passed by Massachusetts’ voters in November, 1980 and then taking effect in Fiscal Year 1982 (July 1, 1981 – June 30, 1982).

That timetable means that no one under age 60 today could have voted for the law.  If you want to learn more information about “Prop. 2 ½,” please contact the Assessors’ Office.

Kevin Rudden

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