Real Estate & Personal Property Tax
When to Apply
If you feel that your property has been overvalued, disproportionately assessed, or incorrectly classified, or is exempt from taxation, you may apply to the Assessors for an abatement. Applications cannot be submitted until after the Actual Tax Bills are issued (late December).
How to Apply
Abatement applications, which must be filed for each and every tax year being contested, must be filed and received in the Assessors Office after the third-quarter tax bills have been mailed and no later than February 1. The Assessors cannot act on any abatement applications received after February 1. Forms are available in the Assessors Office. The full tax due must be paid by February 1 to avoid interest charges. For questions, please call the Assessors' Office at 413-259-3024.
When to Appeal
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Assessors, or if you have not received a notice of the Assessors decision within 3 months from the date you filed your abatement application, you may appeal to the Appellate Tax Board (ATB).
Appeals to the ATB must be filed within 3 months from the date of the Assessors' decision. If you received no notice of the Assessors' decision, then an appeal may be filed after 3 months from the date you filed your abatement application. If the tax is over $3,000, it must be paid timely without incurring interest in order to file an appeal with this Board.
Appeal forms may be obtained from the ATB website and:
Appellate Tax Board
399 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02108-5292
There is a filing fee. Or you may file an appeal within 3 months of the Assessors decision to:
Hampshire Council of Governments
Hampshire County Courthouse
99 Main St.
Northampton, MA 01060
About The Appellate Tax Board (DO WE NEED THIS?)
The Appellate Tax Board is a state agency that hears appeals from taxpayers who have been denied at the local level. This Board hears appeals on the disputed value of real estate and personal property. It also hears appeals on the denial of abatements for excise tax, and personal and charitable exemptions, and hears cases involving the Department of Revenue and state tax.
Upon receipt of an abatement application, the Assessors will mail out to applicants an information request (Form 61A) which will assist them in determining the fair cash value of the property.
To avoid an automatic denial of your application and to retain your right to appeal the Assessors' decision, you must provide all the information requested within 30 days of the date you filed your abatement application. The Assessors have 3 months to act on your abatement application. Failure to act within this time period is deemed a denial.
For more information, contact the Assessors' Office at (413) 259-3024.
In order to make changes to owner(s) of record, the following guidelines apply:
In order to change the owner(s) of record name(s), a deed must be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.
In order to change the owner(s) of record name(s) from maiden name to married name, a Marriage Certificate must be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. A deed must be recorded to add a spouse as an owner of record.
If the owners on the deed were listed as "Tenants by the Entirety," the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner. A Death Certificate must be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.
If the owners on the deed were listed as "Joint Tenants," the remaining owner(s) become joint owners. If there is only 1 surviving joint owner, he/she becomes the sole owner. A Death Certificate must be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. The heirs of a deceased joint owner have no claim on the property.
If the owners on the deed were listed as "Tenants in Common," upon the death of a tenant , his/her share goes according to a will or to his/her estate, not to the surviving tenant(s). It is necessary to file the will of the deceased owner at the Hampshire Country Probate and Family Court Department or, if applicable, at the Probate and Family Court Department in the Massachusetts county where the deceased owner lived.
In the event that there is no will, the Probate and Family Court department will determine ownership. After the Probate and Family Court Department has determined ownership, or the will clears Probate, a deed will be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.
Change of Name
A current property owner can use any legal name change document to change the owner(s) of record name(s). The legal document from the Probate and Family Court Department reflecting this change will be recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.
Change of Owner
If you want to change the owner(s) of record name(s) for any of the above reasons, and have a document that has been filed and recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds, please forward a copy of said document to the Assessors’ Office. In order for the Assessors’ Office to accept such a copy, the copy must show the Book and Page, or document number, as well as bear the Registry’s official stamp.
If you want to change the owner(s) of record name(s) for any of the above reasons, but have not filed the necessary documentation with the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds, please do so at your earliest convenience. After the document has been properly filed and recorded, the Registry of Deeds will forward a copy of the recorded document to the Assessors’ Office.
More information may be obtained from the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds (external site) or at:
Hampshire County Registry of Deeds
The Assessors are required to assess all property at its "full and fair cash value," a term that could also be described as "market value" or "fair market value." Massachusetts General Laws define full and fair cash value as the price an owner willing, but not under compulsion, to sell ought to receive from 1 willing, but not under compulsion, to buy.
The definition of market value as noted by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) (external site) is as follows: "The most probable price expressed in terms of money that a property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market in an arm's length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom are knowledgeable concerning all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used." An "arm's length transaction" is considered to be a sale between 2 unrelated parties both seeking to maximize their positions from the transaction.
Determining Market Value
To determine fair market value, actual sales are used. The sales considered are those which occurred 12 months prior to the January 1 assessment date and 6 months after the January 1 date, trended back to January 1. All arm's length sales are considered bearing in mind that all buyers and sellers are not "knowledgeable" and that the market is imperfect in that regard. For this reason, 1 individual sale is not used to determine "market value." In reviewing and researching 18 months of sales, the Assessor is able to estimate the approximate price a willing buyer might pay for a property on January 1.
For more information, contact the Assessors' Office at (413)259-3024.
There is a physical distinction to be made to determine whether property is real or personal.
Real estate consists of the physical land and appurtenances, including structures affixed thereto, in addition to the interests, benefits, and rights inherent in the ownership of physical real property known as the bundle of rights.
Personal property generally consists of those items not permanently affixed to real estate. Personal property is movable and can be removed without serious damage either to the real estate or the item being removed. The 3 categories of taxable personal properties are:
- Business and professional furnishings
- Household furnishings in property other than the principal residence
- Personal property of public utilities
For more information, please contact the assessors' office at 413-259-3024.