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Fair cash value is the price a willing buyer and a willing seller would settle upon in an open market transaction.
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Land owned by the Town, the federal government, and qualifying charitable organizations who annually file an application for exemption are not taxed on the value of their real estate and personal property. Currently 221 parcels valued at $102,635,800 are exempt.
Other properties that are classified as (i) forestry, (ii) agricultural or (iii) open space and recreation are subject to lower real estate taxes. Currently (i) forestry land (MGL c. 61) totals 271.73 acres; (ii) agriculture (MGL c. 61A) totals 1,304.98 acres and (iii) open space and recreation (MGL c. 61B) totals 441.13 acres. See attached FY 2023 Chapter 61/61A/61B information (XLSX).
Assessors are required by Massachusetts law to assess all real and personal property at its fair cash value as of January 1st each year. The Town then uses a computer-assisted "Mass Appraisal" application approved by the Department of Revenue. This is used to calculate property values based on the market activity as well as certain property-specific attributes such as location, size, construction quality, style, and condition.
Mass Appraisal appraises many properties at once. Mass Appraisal is typically done for property tax purposes, and the effective valuation date for all Mass Appraisals in Massachusetts is January 1st of the valuation year. A fee appraiser appraises only one property at a time. Such an appraisal is done for a specific reason, such as purchase, refinance, estate valuation, etc. The date of the appraisal is typically the day it is appraised.
Sales of vacant and improved properties are the primary source of data. Land values are set using all available land sales.
Since land values change at a different rate than building values, the bulk of any total change in a property value may be attributable to land. This makes good economic sense, as it is land that is in limited supply. Yard items include any structures outside of a house, such as pools, tennis courts, barns, sheds, etc.
Annually, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DoR) performs a statistical analysis of the Town's proposed assessments; this is referred to as "interim adjustments." Additionally, every five years the DoR conducts a comprehensive analysis of the Town's appraisal process and reviews property values in great detail to ensure that the assessments represent full and fair market values; this is referred to as a "revaluation year."
Your property's assessed value is meant to reflect the market conditions for similar properties during the recent year analyzed (not the "current" market). Please be aware that your tax bill may have increased even if your property's market value decreased during the year analyzed. This is due to the effective and equitable allocation of your portion of all Town obligations, which are voted upon in Town meeting and further described in Question 10.
Sherborn property record cards are available online at the Patriot Properties website. The current fiscal year's assessed values are listed on our website: FY 2020 Assessed Values
Interior inspections are an important part of the Town's assessment process. Just as a potential buyer of real estate inspects the interior of a home before making an offer, the Town tries to make a better determination of overall Town property values based upon accurate data using interior inspections. Examples of data reviewed include:
It is the responsibility of the Assessors' Office to establish the taxable valuation of each individual piece of property in the Town. However, the Assessors do not create value. Buyers and sellers create the value via their transactions in the marketplace.
At Town Meeting each year a budget is voted on by the townspeople of Sherborn, taking into account the limits of Proposition 2 ½ and how much money will be needed to meet all appropriations and other expenses. The Tax Levy, which is the difference between the amount approved and the money received from other revenue sources (i.e., state aid, local receipts and available funds) must be raised by property taxation.
Valuation assessments are developed independently from the budget and are used only in the last step of the budgeting process to distribute the Tax Levy. Changing property values do not affect the overall Tax Levy, but it may result in the redistribution of the Tax Levy burden among all taxable properties in town.
The Select Board annually establish the fiscal year residential and commercial/industrial/personal property tax rates. Those rates represent a tax per thousand dollars of assessed value which, when applied to each property's assessed valuation, yields that property's annual tax bill. The total tax on all properties equals the annual Tax Levy.
Proposition 2 ½ pertains to the total amount of money raised by taxation, also known as the Tax Levy. Generally speaking, the Tax Levy may not increase greater than 2.5% over the prior year's levy plus a factor referred to as new growth which captures the increase in valuation and the Tax Levy attributable to new construction. However, this limitation does not pertain to individual tax bills. Your bills may increase or decrease by any amount in any given year based upon Mass Appraisal and the amount needed for the Tax Levy.
There are multiple programs that offer tax relief to qualifying property owners including state and local tax relief. Please refer to our section titled Tax Relief Programs for more information.