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Property Tax in Boston

Taxing land and buildings is one of the oldest forms of taxation in the United States. Before income and sales taxes, local governments used property-based taxes to finance most of their activities. Property taxes remain a major source of revenue for local governments.

To arrive at an accurate amount of tax, an appraisal of the taxable property's value needs to be made. However, disputes often arise, and calculations methods do vary. And with the kind of money that some properties pull, it is almost always better to get a Boston Real Estate lawyer involved.

Recently in Property Tax in Boston:

Property Related Taxes on the Rise in Massachusetts

Property taxes are on the rise in Massachusetts. Various municipalities around Massachusetts have started raising residential property tax. Take Needham, for one. Property taxes on single family homes will increase by around $340, reports The Boston Globe.

Wellesley isn't spared, either, with property taxes going up by approximately $247 on the median single family home. But that's not the only area of concern for homeowners.

With all the talk about the fiscal cliff, many are asking about the state of the mortgage deduction. That's a tax break available to homeowners whereby they can deduct their interest payments on their mortgage.

Homeowner Tip: How To Challenge Tax Assessment Valuation

Most homeowners are aware of the impact of an improper tax assessment. It can be quite costly. Luckily, the researchers at FindLaw have put together a number of tips on how to challenge tax assessment valuations and how to dispute a tax bill.

The first step, obviously, is to get all your records together. You will want to look through them for any obvious errors. Some errors include adding extra bathrooms or bedrooms or using the wrong tax authority.

Medford Property Tax Rates Hiked

The City Council made its decision and Medford's residential property tax rates went up for single family homeowners, reports the Boston Globe.

What may frustrate residential property tax payers even more is that as their rates went up, the commercial tax went down. As a result, single-family homeowners in Medford will pay an average $155 more in taxes this year. This is the 25th year in a row that taxes have gone up, according to Councilor Robert M. Penta.

Generally speaking, a local taxing authority (e.g. the county or municipal government) uses one of two methods to calculate the property tax rate:

Survivor: Richard Hatch Out of Jail for Tax Evasion

The first winner of the reality show Survivor, Richard Hatch, who is from Rhode Island, is out of jail after nine months, reports the Washington Post. He has spent, in total, more than three years in prison for not paying taxes on his $1 million “Survivor” winnings.

The resident of Newport, who may be considered the first big reality star, was convicted of two counts of attempted tax evasion and one count of signing a false tax return, reports the Associated Press.

Weymouth Delinquent Taxpayers List Targets Vacant Landowner

Vacant landowners are under attack in Massachusetts. Brockton Mayor Lisa Balzotti is pushing for an abandoned homes registry that requires a $150 fee from owners of empty homes. Now the Town of Weymouth has instituted a delinquent taxpayers list that targets vacant landowners.

Weymouth will publish on its website a list of property owners who have failed to pay property taxes. The list only includes properties that the town has taken a lien against -- usually after repeated, failed attempts to contact the landowners, reports The Patriot Ledger. About half of the 193 properties listed are vacant lots.

Filing 2010 Taxes: Do You Know Your Homeowner Tax Benefits?

Boston taxpayers who have not yet filed their taxes may run into a few surprises due to legislation from the end of the last year that extended some tax breaks, but ended others.

According to The Boston Globe, some individuals may be able to take advantage of a couple of 2010 tax breaks, like energy or homebuyer's tax credits. Others might realize that their debt-reduction attempts last year may have increased their current tax bill, given that forgiven debt on credit cards is considered taxable income.

Property Tax Assessment: How Much Is Your Home Worth?

When an individual buys a home, the property immediately becomes subject to property taxes that are determined by a local taxing authority, like a municipal or county government. While most Boston homeowners are accustomed to paying these taxes, many people, especially those considering purchasing their first home, may not be familiar with how property tax rates are determined.

According to FindLaw, a property tax assessment is a general estimate of how much a piece of property is worth, and the valuation or appraisal of that property helps establish how much of the local property tax levy will be paid by the owner. That value, once it is determined, is multiplied by the local tax rates or “mill rate” to determine the how much property tax the owner is required to pay for the property.

Why Do Boston Property Taxes Go Up Even When Property Values Drop?

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue reported that property values for single-family homes across the state fell to an average of 8.1 percent each year between 2007 and the summer of 2010. Although most Boston homeowners would assume that lower property values would mean lower tax bills, The Boston Globe writes that property taxes might actually increase instead.

Revenue Department spokesperson Bob Bliss said “it’s always been this way,” explaining that, “even if values go down, taxes go up… It’s like saying that it’s extraordinary that the sun rises every day.”

Property Taxes Increase 7.6 Percent In Boston

The budget cuts in state aid and struggling economy has led the city of Boston to increase its residential and property tax rates by the maximum amount permitted under the law. Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office stated that the decline in Boston's revenue sources, particularly in receiving state aid, has brought the city no other alternative but to raise the city's property taxes.

The Boston Herald reported residential tax rates will rise up to 7.6 percent or $12.79 for every thousand dollars of valuation. This comes out to an increase of $224 each year for the average Boston-area homeowner. Business property taxes will also go up 5.6 percent or $31.04 per thousand in the city.

Basics of Real Property Tax

Property tax is commonly based on the value of real property, even though there are different kinds of property subject to real property tax. "Real property" is land and anything permanently attached to the land, like a building. Examples of real property include offices, apartments, homes, and commercial buildings. Taxing land and buildings are a chief source of revenue for local governments like Boston's, and state law provides municipalities with the power to levy property taxes.

An MA real estate lawyer can explain the all the details on property taxes for Boston homeowners. Generally, property tax entails three phases: levy, appraisal, and collection. Taxing authorities, like a city or hospital, within local governments are responsible for administering the three parts of property tax.