Board of Assessor’s Mission Statement
The Assessor’s Office is responsible for uniformly and accurately valuing all property both real and personal located within the town. The valuation dates for the Town of Goshen are January 1st and June 30th. The values generated by the Assessors are reviewed by the Department of Revenue on annual basis. Triennially the Department of Revenue reviews and certifies all assessments within the town. The next certification of the approximately 1000 parcels of real estate and 17 accounts of personal property will occur in FY 2015. The Board of Assessors reviews approximately 1/9 of all parcels on a yearly basis.
Assessors must also maintain the values in the years between certification. This is done so that each property taxpayer in the community pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government—no more or no less—in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth.
Valuation in Massachusetts is based on “full and fair cash value”, the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller on the open market. The Assessor must collect, record, and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value of all taxable properties in the community.
The Assessor first inspects each property to record specific features of the land and building(s) that contribute to its value. Size, type, and quality of construction, number of rooms, baths fireplaces, type of heating system – all are examples of the data listed on individual property record cards before the valuation can begin.
The Assessor does not create value. Rather, the Assessor has the legal responsibility to discover and reflect the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.
The Assessor’s do not make the laws that affect property owner. Tax laws are enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature. Various guidelines and regulations to implement the legislation are established by the Department of Revenue. The Assessor follows the procedures established by the Department of Revenue to set the values of property. Value is actually set by buyers and sellers as they establish the worth of comparable properties through their transactions in the real estate marketplace.
Official Assessment Responsibilities
- Classify and determine “full and fair cash value” of all real and personal property according to Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 59).
- Review and act upon all real and personal property abatement applications.
- Process all motor vehicle abatement requests.
- Review and process all exemption application for qualifying elderly, widowed, blind or disabled veteran citizens.
- Review all applications for accuracy regarding tax incentives for land used for recreational, forestry or agricultural purposes.
- According to Department of Revenue mass appraisal standards, implement a revaluation of the Town’s real and personal property, every three years.
- Lead role in completing the Recapitulation (setting the tax rate).
Official Administrative Responsibilities
- Maintain property records concerning all structures and residencies including: building area, number of bedrooms and baths, condition and type of heating system.
- Update the Town's Assessor Maps, which contain information such as parcel numbers, and land area.
- After committing the yearly assessments and tax amounts to the Tax Collector for billing purposes, the Assessors must generate a copy of the tax commitment and make it available for public inspection.
- The Assessors must maintain and store all applicable public records including: property record cards, ownership and deed information, betterment records, exemption records, real estate records, personal property and excise records, and property sales.
- Provide relevant information such as "new growth" to the Department of Revenue, Town Accountant and Board of Selectmen, in order for the tax rate to be set timely.
Public Information Policies and Fee Information
For Telephone Inquiries:
The following information may be obtained by telephone:
- Owner name and mailing address
- Parcel identification number
- Land area
- Deed book, deed page, deed date
- Tax rate
Property Valuation For Office Inquiries:
- Deeds are available for the public to purchase, but are also available at the Registry of Deeds in Northampton, MA.
- Plans and surveys are available in the Goshen Planning Board Office or Registry of Deeds in Northampton, MA.
- $1.00 per property record card
- $2.00 per faxed property record card
- $1.00 per page for deeds
- $1.00 per reduced size of tax map (11x17")
There is a $25.00 fee for a certified abutter's list for a specified parcel. The Assessors have up to ten days to respond to a written request.
- Application for Abatement of Real Estate or Person Property
- Application for Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Abatement (short form)
- Application for Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Abatement (long form)
- Application for Senior Exemption
- Application for Statutory Exemption for the Blind
- Application for Veterans Exemption
- Application for Chapter 61 – Forestry
- Application for Chapter 61A – Agricultural or Horticultural
- Application for Chapter 61B – Recreation
- Form of List (for Businesses)
- Form of List – 2nd Home
Other forms can be found at the following link:
Board of Assessors Form and Application Deadlines
Real and personal property applications for abatement
3ABC Application Forms for Charitable Property owners. ◦Personal Property "form of list" applications ◦Income and Expense Statements
Month of March:
Personal exemptions are due 90 days from the mailing of the 3rd quarter actual tax bill.
July 1st (Beginning of the Fiscal Year):
Chapter 61, contact forester deadline - new/renewal certificates
Filing of personal exemptions begins
Prior to October 1st:
Chapter 61 forestry certificates - New/ renewal due in Assessors Office
Chapter 61A Agricultural/Horticultural applications due
Chapter 61B Recreation applications due
How can I reduce my property tax bill? / What is an abatement? / Are there other ways to lower my taxes?
Abatements - The Assessors can lower an assessment if there is an error in the factual data, or if a taxpayer can show that a property assessment is not in line with assessments for an improved property of similar style, age, square footage, amenities, etc. A taxpayer can only seek an abatement from the time the third bill, known as the “actual” bill is mailed (usually one of the last days in December) until these bills are due to be paid on February 1. The application must be in writing on an approved form! (There are different guidelines if bills are mailed after December 31.) Corrections to factual data can be made at any time however, the change in assessment is applied to the next year’s bill if it is not done through the abatement process (i.e. timely filed). The timing of when an assessment can be adjusted is prescribed by statute. This applies whether the change will increase or decrease the assessed value. It also applies if the Town made an error on the property card. Again, whether the error is against or in favor of the owner, it can only be applied to the current or future tax year (if filed timely, or the next fiscal year). There are no retroactive abatements.REAL & PERSONAL PROPERTY ABATEMENTSActual tax bills are normally mailed by the Tax Collector’s office at end of December. Property valuations are printed on the bill. If a property owner does not agree with the valuation of their property, the resolution process begins with an abatement application. The time period for applying for a real and personal property abatement typically runs from the date the actual tax bills are mailed through the due date of the bill or February 1st. Information regarding the abatement applications can be found on the reverse side of the property tax bill.Once abatement applications are received, the Assistant Assessor completes an initial review of all abatement applications and gathers related information to provide to the Board of Assessors. The Board review and make a determination of abatement applications at their regularly scheduled board meetings. Typically applications are reviewed in received date order and the Board reviews as many applications as they can during their routine meetings. If, by any chance, a determination on an abatement application is not made within three months of the received date, it is deemed denied (as provided in Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 Section 64).ABATEMENTS GRANTEDUpon Board of Assessors vote on the abatement application, the “disposition of application” section at the bottom of the abatement application will be completed by Assistant Assessor. This section includes notes on adjustments to value and tax amounts that need to be made on the Town’s records. The Board of Assessors sign off on the abatement application form. All abatements approved by the Board need to be processed in the billing software system and the applicant will be sent an abatement certificate.ABATEMENTS DENIEDAll abatement applicants whose request for abatement is denied by the Board will receive a denial notice (State Tax Form 135) within ten days of the date they voted to deny the application. The “disposition of application” section on the abatement application is completed by the Assistant Assessor indicating the denial of the application.
Exemptions to Persons - Massachusetts General Laws contain several statutes that provide for individual exemptions from real property tax bills. Personal exemptions are specific to the individual and applied to the owners’ real estate. Exemptions are available for veterans with a war-service connected disability; “legally” blind person; a surviving spouse or minor children of a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty; indigent individuals who due to age, infirmity and poverty are unable to pay taxes as well as elderly individuals who meet residency, age, income and asset requirements. Any questions related to personal exemptions should be addressed to the Assessor’s Office. Legislation also allows for an income tax credit beginning with the filing of the 2001 income tax form for certain qualifying individuals 65 years of age or older. For information on income tax credits, please consult your tax preparer.
Exemptions to Property - Certain property is exempt from taxation. Charitable, religious, educational institutions as well as property owned by Federal, State and local government are included.
PERSONAL EXEMPTION INFO
There are five exemptions currently being administered by the Town of Goshen.
- Clause 18 – Hardship, Aged, Infirmed & Impoverished – This clause, provides a tax reduction for aged 70 and older and who meet guidelines (see www.mass.gov) for “financial hardship” as defined each year by the Department of Revenue and determined by the Board of Assessors. The clause provides a $500 tax reduction and may be combined with another exemption.
- Clause 22 – Veteran (at least 10% disabled) - This clause is for veterans who are certified by the Department of Veteran Affairs to be 10% or more disabled with a service connected disability. The clause provides a $400 tax reduction.
- Clause 22E – Veteran (100% disabled) - This clause is for veterans who are certified by the Department of Veteran Affairs to be 100% disabled. In addition to their application, the veteran must provide documentation from Veteran Affairs confirming their status as 100% disabled. The clause provides a $1,000 tax reduction.
- Clause 37 – Blind - This clause is for residents who are certified by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to be legally blind. In addition to their application, the resident must provide a copy of their certification from the Commission for the Blind each year (dated on or after July 1st of the current fiscal year). This clause provides a $437.50 tax reduction.
- Clause 41C – Elderly Exemption – This exemption is for residents age 70 and older and who qualify based on income and asset guidelines for the current fiscal year
What is Market value?
Market value is the major focus of most real property appraisals. Usually included in the definition is the price that a typically motivated buyer will give a typically motivated seller, as of a specified date, allowing for a reasonable exposure time in the market. It should be noted that the sale price of a property is not necessarily its market value. (An extreme example would be the sale of property to a family member for $1.00.) Also, sales of several similar homes may be a better indicator of market value than the price paid for a specific, neighboring property. Distressed sales (due to personal circumstances) or excessively overpriced homes with extended marketing time may also be suspect as market sales.
When and how is property valued?
Assessment, by law must be at market value (aka full and fair cash value) as of January 1 of each year. Every three years the Department of Revenue (D.O.R.) certifies that assessments are at market value by reviewing the sales data within the town. (Between the triennial certification periods assessed values are reviewed and adjusted if necessary. This does not have to be certified by the D.O.R.) After assessments are approved by the state the “burden of proof” lies with the taxpayer to show that they are excessive. The overview by the D.O.R. is designed to insure that values are equitable and uniform. The level of assessment is measured by how closely they approximate market value. That is, are the assessments reasonably close to what the property can sell for in a “normal” transaction? Assessment uniformity refers to the way in which all properties are valued using similar criteria and similar methodology. Questions of overvaluation and/or disagreements with an assessment are handled through an abatement process.
When are changes to the improvements applied to the property value as compared to changes in value due to market conditions?
Physical changes to property such as an addition to the house are applied up to June 30, 2007 for fiscal 2008 values. Property values are scheduled for “certification” for fiscal 2009 assessments. The assessed value is an estimate of what the property could have sold for on the date of valuation (January 1) if it had been available for sale, and exposed to the market for a reasonable period of time. Each year the Assessors strive to have assessments uniform and fair based on the sales that took place from January to December of the year prior to January 1 valuation date. (Sales of property between January and December of 2006 were used to value property with a valuation date of January 1, 2007 for fiscal 2008.) Challenges to these values are welcome through the abatement process. Properties with physical changes due to a building permit received the additional increase of the remodeling/addition based on what was done by June 30. Any physical change noted by the Assessors can be applied to a property at any time, whether or not a permit is involved, it then becomes an issue of what fiscal year it is applied.
What is Proposition 2½?
This is the title given to an initiative petition adopted by the voters of Massachusetts in 1980. It restricts the increase in the tax levy to two and a half percent of the prior year’s tax levy, plus new growth, overrides and/or debt exclusions. Proposition 2½: does not apply to individual tax bills.
What do I need to know about motor vehicle excise?
According to the Department of Revenue, the motor vehicle excise is imposed for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle. It is an assessment in lieu of a personal property tax, however it is billed on a calendar year, not a fiscal year like real and personal property. The amount of the motor vehicle excise due on any particular vehicle or trailer in any registration year is calculated by multiplying the “value” of the vehicle by the motor vehicle excise tax rate. That rate is fixed at $25.00 per thousand dollars of value. (The $25.00 rate is the same in all 352 towns and cities in Massachusetts. It does not change like the property tax rate.). The value of a vehicle for the purpose of determining excise is a percentage of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for that vehicle based on the year of manufacture. The applicable percentages are set out in MGL Ch. 60A § 1 as follows:
- In the year preceding the year of manufacture 50% of manufacturer’s suggested retail price,
- In the year of manufacture 90%,
- In the second year 60%,
- In the third year 40%,
- In the fourth year 25%,
- In the fifth year and succeeding years 10%,
The manufacturer’s list price for any particular vehicle is the price recommended by the manufacturer as the selling price of that vehicle new. It is the manufacturer’s list price rather than the actual purchase price that is used as the value for purposes of calculating the motor vehicle excise.
Questions or Comments
All taxpayers are welcome to call this office (413-268-8236, ext. 302) or email (email@example.com) for assistance and clarification of any question or concerns that they have about their value or data on property cards. We will gladly provide information and assist you in any way that we can. Only your state senator or state representative can change laws and regulations pertaining to cities and towns in Commonwealth. Although sometimes cumbersome to apply, the laws and regulations are in place to provide fair and uniform application of assessments for everyone.