Personal Property Abatements

What is a personal property tax abatement?

An abatement is a reduction in your personal property’s assessment that you can apply for if you believe that assessment does not accurately reflect the property’s market value.

What grounds may I have to get my assessment abated?

Orleans issues personal property tax bills to owners of non-domiciled homes situated in Orleans and to all businesses in town who are not expressly exempt from paying personal property tax by Mass. General Laws. You may have grounds to have this tax abated if:

  • You occupied your home in Orleans as your domicile, or primary residence, as of January 1st.
  • Your business is exempt from all or part of the business personal property tax.
  • You sold your business or vacated your premises prior to January 1st.
  • There is a data error with the personal property record card.

How does the application process work?

3rd and 4th quarter actual tax bills with the newest certified assessments are issued in Orleans by December 31st. Once you receive that bill and if you think the assessed value is inaccurate, you must complete, sign and submit an application for abatement (along with all accompanying documents) with the Assessing office no later than February 1st. If the 3rd and 4th quarter actual tax bills are issued after January 1st, the application is due no more than 30 days from the date the bill is issued. If you are mailing your application to us, it must be postmarked no later than February 1st. 

Any applications received or postmarked after February 1st, by law, must be denied.

You may pick up an application at the Assessing office or download one by clicking here.

How should I prepare my abatement application?

If you received a bill because the home you own in Orleans was not your domicile, you must submit proof with your application that you acquired domiciliary status prior to January 1st to have the tax abated. A current excise tax bill or vehicle registration, a copy of your voter registration or your town census return completed prior to January 1st will all serve as acceptable proof of this.

If you received a business personal property bill...

  • If you sold the business or vacated the property you were using for your business prior to January 1st, provide some kind of paperwork that proves this.
  • If you are incorporated in Massachusetts, please submit your Massachusetts articles of organization.
  • If you believe there is a data error with your listed personal property, please describe specifically which personal property you no longer own.

What happens after I submit my application?

The Board has three months from the date you submit your application to act on it.

If your application is granted, your property's taxable assessment will be adjusted accordingly and you will be mailed a certificate showing the adjustment to your assessment. If you choose to pay the 3rd quarter tax bill, any adjustment will be reflected on the balance that's due in the 4th quarter. If you choose to pay the 3rd and 4th quarters, any adjustment will be refunded to you via check by the Treasurer's office. Filing an abatement application does not stay the collection of your taxes...and remember, abatement applications are usually do on the same day as the 3rd quarter payment. If your plan is to wait until the Board of Assessors decides on your application before paying, you will end up incurring interest and late fees on your bill that must be paid even if an abatement is granted.

If your application is denied, no adjustment will be made to your assessment and you will be mailed a certificate stating the reason the Board denied your application.

What if I don't agree with the Board's decision?

If you don't agree with the disposition of your abatement application, you must file an appeal with the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board, the neutral third-party that arbitrates assessment disputes. You can call them at (617) 727-3100 or visit their website for more information.