Some residents experienced sticker shock when they received their most recent property tax bills.
At a recent meeting of the Wenham Board of Selectmen, Steve Gasperoni, the town’s assessor and Tom Tanous, chairman of the Board of Assessors, explained the reasons for the jump in the assessed value of some homes in town.
Many homeowners are asking, "What can I do about my property tax bill?"
The answer is visit your assessors office to see if you qualify for a reduction in the assessment value of your home or one of the many programs to assist residents with lowering or deferring their tax burden.
First, if you feel the assessed value of your home is too high, file an abatement to appeal the valuation. This must be done before the due date on your tax bill. It’s a good idea to know the sales price of homes that sold in your neighborhood about a year ago and how they compare to your home in style, square footage and lot size. You can find this information on the Southern Essex County Registry of Deeds website at www.salemdeeds.com.
Next, check to see if you are eligible for an exemption from the Community Preservation Act surcharge. The exemption is based on your income level. In 2011, the income level was $77,200 for a couple over 60 or a family of 4 where the property owners were under 60. Check with the assessors office for the current year income levels for your age bracket and family size.
If you are a senior over 60 years of age, check with your town to see if they have a Senior Tax Work-off program. Both Wenham and Hamilton have a program. Besides providing the opportunity to reduce your tax bill, this can be an opportunity to do something important for the community.
Last, if you are a senior over 70 years of age in Hamilton, check to see if you qualify for the Senior Real Estate Tax Exemption Program for low income seniors.
Information about all of these programs is available from the assessors office at your town hall. Many programs have deadlines approaching before Feb. 1, so ask about them this week.