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Halifax Town Hall, 499 Plymouth Street, Halifax, MA 02338 • Phone/Hours
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Assessors' responsibilities?
The primary responsibility of the Assessors' office is the valuation of all real estate and personal property in the Town of Halifax. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, Section 38 the Board of Assessors must assess all property, real and personal, at full and fair cash value. These values are used as the basis of the local property tax. The office also administers all real estate tax exemptions, real estate tax abatements and excise tax abatements.

Why do assessments change when nothing has happened to the property?
Since assessments must represent market value, rising and declining real estate values in the town will be reflected in assessments. All properties, however, do not change in value to exactly the same degree. Many factors influence values and the value of some properties may be affected by the market more than others.

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. Because the legal assessment date is January 1st, sales from the previous calendar year are required. Therefore, an assessed value is a historical value and not a current market value.

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 (e.g. October 1st) and the date the 1st half tax is due (e.g. November 1st). The Assessor will fully inspect your property and then review the value which was committed. If the property is determined to be over-valued, the second half tax amount will be adjusted. The Assessors have 3 months from the date of filing in which to act on your application. For more information on Abatements & Appeal Process click here

If I do not agree with my assessed value and have filed for abatement, do I have to pay my tax bill?
Yes, in order to successfully appeal your assessed valuation, you must pay all your bills on time without accruing interest. An abatement appeal to the Appellate Tax Board can be denied if any interest has been accrued on a tax bill.

What is Proposition 2 ½?
Proposition 2 ½ is a constitutional change in the law that was passed in 1981 limiting the amount that any town can raise the local tax levy by more than 2 ½ percent without a vote on the election ballot.

Why did my tax bill increase by more than 2 ½ percent from the previous year?
Higher increases in individual tax bills may result from tax burden shifts,(classification among residential, commercial, industrial, and personal property is voted by the Board of Selectmen), or additions or renovations which increase the valuation of your property. Furthermore, changes in market value are not always reflected evenly across property classes. It is common to see that, as indicated by the sales, different types of property (single family versus condominiums) as well as styles (ranch versus colonial) do not appreciate nor depreciate at the same rate.

What is the difference between an 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.

What are the  different types of exemptions that are available?
There are several different types of personal exemptions available. There are exemptions available to service-related disabled veterans, the elderly, the blind and widows. For more information click here

Why did I receive a note on my door indicating that the Assessor wanted 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 inspected every 6 to 9 years in order to meet DOR guidelines. This is referred to as a cyclical inspection. The Assessors’ office also conducts its own inspections after a building permit is issued. The building permit inspections are usually conducted much later than the building department’s inspections.

What is an excise tax?
Excise tax is a tax levied on every registered vehicle and trailer within the state. The taxpayer must pay the bill to the community in which the vehicle is registered as of January 1st of each calendar year. The rate for excise tax is $25 per $1000 in valuation of the vehicle based on the MSRP. The MSRP is reduced by a percentage according to MGL Chapter 60A for the first five years of the life of the car and then fixed thereafter. If a vehicle is sold, donated or junked, excise abatement may be obtained with the proper documentation. For more information on Motor Vehicle Excise Tax click here.

Where can I get a copy of my deed?
The Plymouth County Registry of Deeds and its information is available online and can be printed at your convenience.

Who is responsible for taxes if a property is sold after January 1st?
Although the tax bill will bear the name of the assessed owner as of January 1, the new owner is responsible for all taxes once the sale of the property is finalized. The amount of tax owed by the previous owner is determined at the time of closing and is typically deducted from the selling price. Once this deduction is made, the new owner must pay all bills as they become due in order to avoid collection actions, including foreclosure. The lawyers assisting each party should already have investigated any outstanding taxes and obtained a Municipal Lien Certificate. Once the agreement is made, the new owner is obligated to pay any outstanding taxes due on the property.

Why is the former owner’s name still on my tax bill?
This often confuses new owners, but Chapter 59, Section 11, of the Massachusetts General Law reads, "Taxes on real estate shall be assessed, in the town where it lies, to the person who is the owner on January first......."  The tax bill will carry the January 1st owner(s) name throughout the entire subsequent fiscal year. The former owner's name will be replaced by the new owner's name once the fiscal year has run its cycle.

What should I do if I sold my house but still receive a tax bill?
In most cases, if the deed has been recorded at least 6 weeks prior to the issue date of the tax bill, the new owner will receive the tax bill. If you receive a bill within 6 weeks of the sale, please forward it to the new owner immediately.

How do I file an abatement form?
You must file between October 1 and November 1 of the tax year, or as stated on the tax bill. However, you should ask yourself three questions before filing for an abatement:

Is the data on my property correct?
Is my value in line with others on my street?
Is my value in line with recent sale prices in my neighborhood?

For more information on Abatements & Appeal Process click here.

How do I change my address for tax billing?
Click here for form

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Town of Halifax • 499 Plymouth Street • Halifax, MA 02338
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