Average Boston Family to Pay $63 Less in Property Taxes Next Year

The City of Boston today announced the property tax rates for Fiscal 2014. The Fiscal 2014 tax rate for residential property is $12.58 per thousand dollars of valuation. The rate for business properties is $31.18 per thousand. Last fiscal year’s rates for residential and business properties were $13.14 and $31.96, respectively. The City’s total assessed value for Fiscal 2014 is $99.8 billion, an increase of 8.3 percent from last year.

The total tax levy is $1.779 billion, an increase of $95.2 million over last year. Of the levy growth, $53.1 million is the result of new construction and properties being added to the tax base. The remaining $42.1 million is the 2.5 percent increase allowed under the provision of Proposition 2 1/2.

The real estate market in Boston is healthy, with many neighborhoods exhibiting signs of appreciation over the prior year.  As a result, many homeowners will see changes in their assessments to reflect the improving market.  However, the impact of the Proposition 2 ½ limits on the tax levy and the state tax rate classification formula will reduce the residential tax rate.  As a result, the average single family property tax bill will decrease slightly, from $3,480 last year to $3,417, a reduction of $63.

Residential taxes in Boston remain extremely competitive. The average residential tax bill in Boston is 29 percent below last year’s statewide average of $4,846. The City has a number of programs for eligible property tax owners to lower their tax bills, including the residential exemption. This exemption is available to taxpayers who own and occupy their home as the principal residence. The residential exemption will save qualifying taxpayers $1,763.84 off their tax bills in Fiscal 2014.

In addition to the residential exemption, Mayor Menino has initiated other measures during his tenure to ease the property tax burden. They include increasing the property tax exemption for elderly taxpayers with limited incomes from $500 to $750.

Additionally, the City of Boston offers exemptions for qualified homeowners who are blind, surviving spouses, or veterans (with a wartime service-related disability). The City also offers a tax deferral program for those elderly homeowners whose current expenses make the continued ownership of their home difficult. To qualify for Fiscal 2014, taxpayers must be age 65 or older and have an income of less than $55,000 per year. The amount of the deferred taxes, plus interest accruing at a rate of 4 percent per year, must be repaid when the property is sold or upon the passing of the owner.

This year, Mayor Menino and the Boston City Council extended for a period of 2 years a tax relief program for those members of the National Guard or Military Reserve serving overseas during the tax year. Applicants who qualify for the National Guard Exemption will receive a 100 percent reduction in real estate taxes. To be eligible, applicants must 1) be an active National Guard Member or Military Reservist serving in a foreign country during the fiscal year, 2) possess a sufficient ownership interest in the property, defined as at least $2,000 in value, for the fiscal year in question, and 3) own the property as his or her primary residence either solely, as a joint owner, or as a tenant in common.

The 3rd quarter tax bills containing assessments and new tax rates will be mailed at the end of December. Payments for the 3rd quarter bill are due February 3, 2014.

Taxpayers with questions about bills may:

• Visit the Assessing Department at Boston City Hall, Room 301;

• Call the Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center at 617-635-4287; or

• Access the City of Boston Assessing Department website at www.cityofboston.gov/assessing.

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