What Assessors DO
Assessors are elected or appointed locally in Massachusetts’s cities and towns. The Assessors are required by Massachusetts Law to list and value all real and personal property. The valuations are subject to ad valorem taxation on the assessment roll each year. The “ad valorem” basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed “according to value”, which is the definition of ad valorem. Assessed values in Massachusetts are based on “full and fair cash value”, or 100 percent of fair market value.
Assessors are required to submit these values to the State Department of Revenue for certification every three years. In the years between certification, Assessors must also maintain the values. The Assessors review sales and the market every year and thereby reassess values each year. This is done so that the property taxpayer pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government, in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth, on a yearly basis rather than every three years.
In addition, the Department administers the Motor Vehicle Excise taxes.
What Assessors DO NOT Do
The Assessors do not raise or lower taxes. The Assessors do not make the laws, which affect property owners. The Massachusetts Constitution requires that direct taxes on persons be proportionately and reasonably imposed. In addition, the Declaration or Rights, Part I, Article 10, requires each individual to bear his fair share of the public expenses.
The Assessors are required to annually assess taxes in an amount sufficient to cover the State and Local appropriations chargeable to the Town. These taxes assessed will include State and County assessments which have been duly certified to the Board and local appropriations voted by the Town Meeting.
The Assessors Office has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected. The Assessor’s primary responsibility is to find the “full and fair cash value” of your property, so that you may pay only your fair share of the taxes. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within the community, and is the basis for the budget needed to provide for services, such as schools, roads, fire, law enforcement, etc. The tax rates are simply those rates, which will provide funds to pay for those services.