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An abatement is a reduction in your property's assessment that you can apply for if you believe that assessment does not accurately reflect the property's market value.
You should seek an abatement if you believe one of the following applies to your property:
3rd and 4th quarter actual tax bills with the newest certified assessments are issued in Orleans by December 31st. If you receive those bills and if you think the assessed value is inaccurate, you must complete, sign and submit an application for abatement (along with all accompanying documents you wish to provide as evidence) 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 must be denied. The Board of Assessors does not have the legal authority to consider any abatement applications that are submitted after that date.
You may pick up an application at the Assessing office or download one: Real Property Abatement Application (PDF).
As far as evidence goes, you should treat this like any other court proceeding and provide as much relevant evidence as possible. You're the plaintiff in this instance, so the burden of proof rests with you, not us. It's not enough to just say that your property's value is wrong; you have to prove it.
Here are some helpful tips for improving your chances of getting an abatement approved:
Here are some common pitfalls you'll want to avoid when filing for a real property abatement:
The Board has 3 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 due 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.
If you don't agree with the disposition of your abatement application, you must file an appeal with the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board (ATB), the neutral third party that arbitrates assessment disputes. You can call them at 617-727-3100 or visit their website for more information. While we certainly encourage any taxpayer who is aggrieved by an abatement denial to avail themselves of this option, the Orleans Assessing office will not provide appellants any assistance in gathering data or compiling records for an ATB hearing.