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City of Somerville Assessor's Portal

Cyclical Inspections: Assessors will be performing inspections at properties across the City that have not been inspected or sold in the last ten years. These inspections may take place during office hours, Monday through Friday. Representatives will carry a City of Somerville photo ID. If you have questions or concerns, please call us at (617) 625-6600 x3500 or email assessing@somervillema.gov.


Recently Improved Properties: Assessors will be performing inspections at properties across the City that have recently undergone improvements. These inspections may take place during office hours, Monday through Friday. Representatives will carry a City of Somerville photo ID. If you have questions or concerns, please call us at (617) 625-6600 x3500 or email assessing@somervillema.gov

Assessor’s Office:

617-625-6600 ext. 3100
assessing@somervillema.gov
somervillema.gov/Assessing

For information on how to pay your taxes, contact the Treasurer’s Office:

617-625-6600 ext. 3500
treasury@somervillema.gov
somervillema.gov/Treasury

Or drop by City Hall at 93 Highland Ave:

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapters fifty-eight to sixty-five C, the Board of Assessors fall under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Revenue who may revise rules, regulations, and guidelines, as deemed necessary to establish minimum standards of assessment performance.

In Massachusetts, the property tax is an ad valorem (based on value) tax. In the late 1970s, the Massachusetts Supreme Court in the Sudbury Decision ruled that property values would be based on 100% full fair cash market value. Full and fair cash value is the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller under no special circumstances and given a reasonable exposure to the market. Assessors must use accepted Massachusetts’ appraisal techniques to value property.

In order to determine market value, a sales verification process is started by members of the assessing staff. Letters are sent to buyers and sellers to attest to the Arm's Length Nature of the sale to determine if there were special circumstances involved and to determine the condition of the property on the date of sale. Property measurements and current conditions of property are then updated on all sales. A complete statistical analysis is performed and must meet Department of Revenue standards to satisfy the Commissioners Standards of Performance in order to meet annual and triennial certifications before tax bills may be mailed.

The property tax levy is the revenue a community can raise through real and personal property taxes. Under Proposition 2 ½, there are limits on the amount of the levy raised by a city or town and on how much the levy can be increased from year to year.

Assessors annually classify all real property into one of four real property classes either residential, commercial, industrial, or open space. The City may then allocate the tax levy among the classes of real property within prescribed statutory limits. The tax rate applicable to commercial, industrial and personal property may be higher than applied to residential properties. Approximately 100 communities in Massachusetts opt each year to shift the tax burden from residential to commercial, industrial, and personal property classes rather than to apply the same rate to all classes of property.

Contact Information
Francis J. Golden
Chief Assessor & Chairman of the Board

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Phone Number
x
3100
Address

93 Highland Ave.
Assessor's Office (Room 108)
Somerville, MA 02143
United States

Employee Directory

FY23 Property Tax Update

Tax savings for seniors: If you're a senior, you may be able to reduce or defer your property taxes. Photo © Ken Teegardin 2011 via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/ahwWjs

Dear Residents and Taxpayers of Somerville:

From the Assessors: Fiscal Year 2023 is a State Department of Revenue (DOR) interim adjustment year for the Board of Assessors. An interim adjustment year requires that the Board adjusts values based upon changes in the market and that DOR standards have been met. While the DOR reviews and approves any adjustment by the Board, the standards are not quite as rigorous and as comprehensive as those in a certification or revaluation year. Assessments for FY 2023 reflect values as of January 1, 2022 and were released to the public on December 31, 2022. They can be viewed in the Assessor’s Database. Assessed values will appear on your third quarter actual tax bill issued on or about 12/31/2022. Taxpayers who feel that their property is overvalued must file a formal appeal (abatement) with the Board of Assessors by no later than February 1, 2023 but not before December 31, 2022.

Among other information, this update explains:

  • How to find out your assessed value for FY 2023
  • The FY 2023 tax rates
  • Estimated average tax bills for residential homeowners
  • How to appeal or file for an abatement
  • How values are calculated
  • Property value trends in Somerville
  • Information on property tax exemptions available to qualifying owners

Sincerely,

Francis J. Golden, MAA Chief Assessor & Chairman
Michael Flynn, MAA
Richard Scanlon, MAA

View Property Tax Update Mailer (PDF)

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Assessment Update

For Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) the total assessed value of taxable property in the City of Somerville is approximately $22 billion, an 6.9% increase over FY22. Commercial values gains this past year at 20.7%. This increase was driven by several ongoing commercial new construction projects city-wide.

Residential values increased at a more stable 5.7%. On average, citywide one to three-family residential values increased by 5%.

The overall increase in property values reflects continued strong market demand in Somerville, new construction of both residential and commercial properties, and increased value created by investment in and renovation of existing properties, among other factors. 

The table below depicts average assessment changes in FY23 compared to last year (FY22) by property type for Market & Growth and Growth only.

Average Change in Assessment by Property Type

Property type

Market & Growth

Growth

Single-family

6%

1%

2- and 3-family

6.8%

-35%

Condominiums

7.5%

-29%

Apartments 4+ Units

9.8%

0.3%

Commercial

20.8%

64%

Industrial

-4.2%

-78%

Personal Property*

N/A

N/A

*Tax on business equipment, under 10,000 exempt status, comparison invalid
Understanding Average Changes

Factors that can result in a value change different from the average include, but are not limited to:

  • Being located in neighborhoods that had higher or lower sales prices, especially in relation to their assessment in the previous year;
  • Significant improvements to the property, demolition, or an under-construction status;
  • Required data changes due to discovery during inspection or estimate due to lack of entry (for example, property condition, number of bathrooms, measurement changes, etc.); and/or
  • Having received an abatement in FY 2022.
Real Estate & Rental Trends

There are significant valuation changes in FY23 in both the residential and commercial sectors. The housing market continues to be active with the largest increases for one, two, and three families found in the West Somerville, East Somerville, Ten Hills, Winter Hill North and Central, Spring, and Prospect Hill areas. The largest condominium valuation changes can be found in Union Square South, Winter Hill, and East Somerville areas. Note that condo conversions have slowed due to the passage of increased tenants’ rights rules for when a property gets converted to condominiums.

FY 2023 assessments have an effective market date of January 1, 2022 with an emphasis on calendar 2021 sale prices. Only calendar 2021 sales were analyzed for condominium, single-, two- and three-family properties. 

Apartments continue to appreciate city-wide, and our 4-8 units- and 9-plus unit-buildings continue to show increasing rents and low vacancies. The Assessors continue to manage apartment appreciation methodically. Commercial properties have increased in value, but most of this increase is because of growth which is driven by ongoing construction projects in Assembly Square, Cambridge Crossing & Boynton Yards.

FY23 Tax Rates

FY 2023 Proposed Tax Rates and Residential Exemption Changes (Pending DOR Approval)

 

FY 2022

FY 2023

Residential Tax Rate

$10.18

$10.34

Commercial Tax Rate

$16.85

$17.35

Residential Exemption %

35%

35%

Residential Exemption Tax Savings

$3,659.64

$3,910.62

The proposed tax rates for FY23 will be $10.34 per thousand dollars of value for residential properties, and the commercial tax rate will be $17.35 per thousand dollars of value. These rates reflect an increase of $0.16 for residential and an increase of $0.50 for commercial. The residential exemption tax savings for owners who reside at their property will increase by $250.98 from last fiscal year. Somerville offers the highest residential exemption in the Commonwealth.

Change in Residential and Commercial Tax Bills

This year, commercial taxpayers will pay 29.15% of the total property tax levy, compared to 27.47% last year. Note that 83.34% of properties are residential in Somerville, and the classification hearing brought their share of the levy down to 70.85% compared to 72.53% last year. The assessed values for residential and commercial properties reflect market demand as well as increased value created by renovations and improvements to existing properties, which were moderately higher for commercial in the past year than residential.

The table below reflects average valuation changes since FY22 and the expected or projected tax dollar change from the previous year for each property type.

FY22-FY23 Average Changes to Assessed Values and Tax Bills by Property Type

Property Type

Average FY22 Assessed Value

Average FY22 Tax Bill*

Average FY23 Assessed Value

Average FY23 Tax Bill*

Tax Dollar Change from FY22 to FY23

% Change in Tax Bill from FY22 to FY23

Condo

$678,680

$3,246

$712,656

$3,458

$212

6.5%

1-Family

$960,489

$6,112

$1,023,536

$6,673

$561

9.2%

2-Family

$1,029,739

$6,814

$1,084,457

$7,303

$487

7.2%

3-Family

$1,291,033

$9,474

$1,329,800

$9,840

$366

3.9%

4-8-Family

$1,776,072

$14,407

$1,854,005

$15,260

$853

5.9%

Comm./Ind.

$2,981,201

$50,233

$3,011,030

$52,241

$2,008

4.0%

*Condo, 1-family, 2-family, 3-family, and 4-8-family include the residential exemption.
New Growth and New Development

In FY22, Somerville experienced more new growth than any other year in its history with a tax levy growth of $10.7M. FY23 establishes another new high with tax levy growth of $12.3M. New growth is the value added to homes and buildings by improvements or new construction. In FY23, new growth in Somerville was valued at $840,834,536. Of this, $562,958,257 is new commercial and industrial growth as well as growth in personal property, of which $99.5M was generated by new commercial buildings at Assembly Row and $141.4M from new buildings at Cambridge Crossing, Union Sq, and Boynton Yards.

It is the long-term strategy of the administration to promote new commercial growth/development goals to reduce the residential tax liability and bring other community benefits. This strategy is not yet yielding tax decreases, but commercial growth is now helping to reduce the size of residential tax increases.

Cambridge Crossing, Union Square, Boynton Yards, and the Green Line Extension station areas in general, are expected to produce more new commercial growth in the coming years.

Assessor’s Database, Maps, & Abatements

The Assessing Department maintains a database of commercial, industrial, and residential property values in the City of Somerville.

Any taxpayer who feels that the value the Assessors have placed on their property does not reflect market value has the right to appeal. Appeals must be made to the Assessors by February 1st, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. Application for abatement or appeal can be obtained at the Assessor’s Office or by clicking on the "Abatement Application" button below. Income and expense forms, if needed, can be printed from here as well.

Property Tax Abatement Application

Note that abatement applications must be filed in the Assessors Office by no later than the close of business on February 1st or will be considered late at which point the Board of Assessors loses jurisdiction to abate the bill. Applications, however, will be accepted if mailed to the Assessors' Office and showing a U. S. postal postmark of February 1 or earlier. Also, note that an application can be faxed or e-mailed (to assessing@somervillema.gov) as long as it is received in the Assessors' Office by the close of business on February 1.

The Board of Assessors has three (3) months from the date of application to issue a decision. Applicants aggrieved by a decision of the Board can appeal to the State Appellate Tax Board within three (3) months of the date of the Board of Assessors' notice.

Note that the filing of abatement does not stay the collection of the tax. To preserve all appeal rights, bills should be paid timely by the due date without incurring interest.

Additional inquiries can be made at the Assessors Office, by email at assessing@somervillema.gov, or by calling the Office at 617 625-6600 x3100.

Below is a listing with detailed Assessor's maps of every section of the City.

Step 1:
View the Parcel Map Index to find the parcel map number of the area you are looking for, then come back to this page and click on that number in the list below to view a detailed parcel map.

Thumbnail preview of linked parcel map index

Step 2:
Scroll through the listing below to find the correct map:

Parcel Maps 1-50
Parcel Maps 51-100
Personal Maps 101–150

Exemptions & Other Tax Relief

Residential Exemption

Each year, at the option of the Mayor and City Council, an exemption of not more than 35% of the average assessed value of all Class One, residential parcels, may be applied to residential parcels that are the principal residence of the taxpayer as of January 1st, 2022. This fiscal year (FY23), this can save you up to $3910 on your real estate tax bill.

Clause Name

Clause#

Basic
Qualifications

Other
Qualifications

$$$ Amount

Forms

Residential Exemption

5C

Own & occupy Somerville home as your principal domicile on previous January 1

Documentation of residency required.

Up to $3,910 for FY23

Apply

Instructions

Clause Exemptions

Qualifying seniors, veterans, and others may apply for additional real estate tax exemptions allowed under state law. The amounts are set by the State. Depending on how much your taxes increased over last year, the City also allows up to double the exemption amounts to be removed from your tax bill. To qualify for any of the exemptions you must own & occupy your Somerville home as your principal home on qualifying date. The qualifying date for most of the Clause Exemptions for FY 2023 is July 1, 2022. Please note that if your home is held in a trust, you are the owner only if you are a trustee or co-trustee of that trust, and you have a sufficient beneficial interest in the home. Questions can be addressed to Assessing at 617-625-6600 ext. 3100 or email us at assessing@somervillema.gov.

Clause Name

Clause#

Basic
Qualifications as of 7/1/21

Other
Qualifications

Income Limits

Asset Limits

$$$ Amount

Forms

Elderly/ Surviving Spouses or minors

17D

Age 70 or older/

Surviving spouse or minor

Own & occupy property 5 years

None

$69,691

$303

Apply

Instructions

Hardship

18

Age, Infirmity, Income

Must meet all three (3)

Poverty

 

Varies

Apply

Instructions

Veterans

22, 22A thru 22F

At least 10% disability, varies per clause letter

Mass resident 6 months prior to service or 5 years Mass residency

None

None

Varies per clause letter

Apply

Instructions

Blind

37A

Legally Blind

Yearly blind certificate

None

None

$500

Apply

Instructions

Tax Deferral

41A

Age 65 or Older, tax deferred 2.5% interest per year

Own & Occupy Property for 5 years

$86,000

None

Defers Up to 100%

Apply

Instructions

Elderly

41C

Age 65 or older

Own / Occupy 5 yrs. in MA & MA resident 10 yrs.

(S)$24,385 (M)$36,577

(S)$48,768 (M)$67,057

$1000

Apply

Instructions

Senior Work-off

5K

Over 60

Somerville resident

Contact Council on Aging

None

Up to $1,500  

Apply with Council on Aging: (617) 625-6600 x2300

Community Preservation Act (CPA) Exemption

Chapter 44B

Own & occupy Somerville home as your principal domicile on previous January 1

See income limits

Depends on age and household size. See full listing here.

None

If qualified, exempts all of CPA surcharge.

Apply

Instructions

 

Elderly Exemption

Qualifying seniors, widows, and others may apply for additional exemptions allowed under state law. This includes the 41C Elderly Exemption of $1,000 for qualifying low-income seniors 65 and over (see income and asset limits in overview). If your income is too high for the 41C exemption but you have low assets, you may qualify for a 17D elderly exemption. The 17D Exemption of $303 for qualifying seniors 70 and over (see asset limits in overview). If you qualify for an elderly exemption this will give you in addition to the RE tax exemption a 25 % discount on your water & sewer bill.

Hardship

In cases of extreme hardship, seniors may qualify to have all or a portion of their tax bill waived. Hardship is based on three factors that must all be met: age, infirmity, and income. This option is for homeowners who are older, very low-income, and who also suffer from a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability. The hardship exemption is granted at the sole discretion of the Board of Assessors.

Veterans

Several exemptions are available to veterans of the armed forces who have suffered a service connected disability of not less than 10%, or of a veteran who received a U.S. military decoration award. Disabled veterans can apply for a personal exemption, a VA letter mentioning the percentage of disability is required, and you need to be a Mass resident 6 months prior to service or have 5 years Mass residency. Like the other exemptions, the applicant needs to own and live at their property. The amount of the exemption varies per disability. You can find a more detailed explanation in our instruction letter (see overview).

Blind

If you are blind you may qualify for an exemption in the amount of $500 under clause 37A. A letter from your doctor indicating blind status or a certificate from the Massachusetts Commission for the blind is required.

Delay Paying Your Taxes (Tax Deferral for Seniors)

The Senior Tax Deferral program allows qualifying seniors age 65 or over to delay paying all or a portion of their tax bill as long as they live in and own their home. That way seniors can free up some of their resources to help cover their living expenses. Tax deferral works like a loan. Currently, 2.5 percent simple interest is charged on the amount deferred. Payment is not due until the house is sold or transferred to heirs or others. You can find a more detailed explanation in our instruction letter (see overview).

CPA Exemption

Full exemptions from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge are available to any income-eligible seniors age 60, and for who are under certain income limits. For example, individual seniors with an income at or below $98,140., or married seniors at or below $112,160., qualify. Limits increase with family size, and deductions for dependents and medical expenses may also help you come in under these limits. You can find a more detailed explanation in our instruction letter (see overview).

Senior Tax Work-Off Program

The Senior Tax Work-off program is just what it sounds like. Any income-eligible senior over 60 may opt to work off up to $1,500 of their annual tax bill by doing light office or other helpful work for the City. By law, the hourly pay rate is the State minimum wage of $14.25 per hour (per 1/1/2022). That means it takes about 106 hours to work off the full $1,500, or about 3 hours per week. Work-off jobs include light office work or youth services, such as reading storybooks to children. We make every effort to find available work with duties that match your skills and abilities. Call Council on Aging at (617) 625-6600 x2300 to learn more.

Motor Vehicle Excise

The Motor Vehicle and Trailer Excise Tax is imposed on anyone who registers a motor vehicle or trailer in Massachusetts. A tax is incurred for each year of registration. In some cases, you may qualify for a tax abatement or refund. Please note that filing an abatement application does not stay the collection of your excise tax. To avoid interest charges and collection actions, you must pay your excise tax in full by the deadline on your bill. If an abatement is granted, you will receive a refund for the difference.

Pay Excise Tax Online

Abatement Application

Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Explainer

Excise Abatement Instructions

Instrucciones Disminución De Impuesto

Instruções Redução De Impostos

Enstriksyon Yo 'Excise Abatement'

Excise Abatement Instructions - Mandarin

Commercial & Personal Property

Personal Property: Form of List

Personal Property is assessed separately from real estate. This tax is assessed upon non-real estate, tangible assets. These assets are composed of good, material objects and other things capable of material ownership that are not part of real estate.

The Board of Assessors, as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is in the process of reviewing and inspecting all tangible, personal property associated with Somerville businesses for fiscal year starting on July 1. This includes all machinery, equipment, inventory, etc. used in the conduct of your business as of January 1. This review of your business personal property is designed to provide the Assessors with accurate information that will establish fair and equitable values throughout the City.

The Board of Assessors is requesting business owners to complete the form of list and submit it by March 1. If a Form of List is not received, the Board will estimate your value, which may result in an increase. Failure of an owner or lessee to comply with this request, will bar them from any statutory appeal under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 56 Section 36.

Please note that since the beginning of fiscal year 2021 businesses with personal property under $9,999 are exempt to being taxed.

If you closed your business in Somerville, please complete & sign a personal property affidavit, and mail or email the affidavit to: assessing@somervillema.gov. Note that you will receive your first personal property bill a year after you opened your business in Somerville, and that you will receive personal property bills for a year after you closed your business in Somerville. 

Annual Income and Expense Filing

The Board of Assessors is requesting income and expense information on commercial, industrial, and apartment properties to help us determine equitable values for assessment purposes. In accordance with State Law, all information listed on the forms is not available to the public for inspection. [CH 59 S52B]. While it is in the best interest of property owners to contribute to the establishment of fair assessments, Massachusetts Law also requires such disclosure: Section 38D of Chapter 59.

Please return the completed Income & Expense forms by April 15.

Upcoming Dates & FAQ

Upcoming Important Dates

December 31

Third-quarter actual tax bills are mailed with new fiscal year assessment and tax rate

December 31 to
February 1

Official appeal period to request changes to FY23 valuations by filing for a Property Tax Abatement

February 1

Third-quarter actual tax bill due and deadline for filing for a Property Tax Abatement (4:30 p.m. sharp)

March 1

Form of List - Personal Property due

March 1

3ABC Form (not-for-profit orgs) due
April 3

Deadline to file for and/or Statutory Exemptions (4:30 p.m. sharp)

April 15

Income & Expense Forms due (Commercial and Industrial Use / Mixed Use / Apartment Use)

Frequently Asked Questions

Property taxes are a direct result of two factors: the assessed value for all property (minus exemption values for the fiscal year in question) and the City’s financial obligations (the required property tax levy) as determined in the adopted budget for that fiscal year. Once these two factors are known, the setting of the tax rate is not discretionary. It becomes a straightforward mathematical exercise as follows:

Classified Tax Rates = Property Tax Levy/Property Values Minus Exemption Values

The Board of Assessors calculates values based upon real estate market conditions in accordance with State Department of Revenue (DOR) regulations. The Assessors thus use the three accepted appraisal approaches to value including replacement cost, sales comparisons, and a review of income generated by the property. FY23 assessments will be established based upon market value as of January 1, 2022.

The FY23 deadline to file an appeal with the Board of Assessors is by no later than Wednesday, February 1, 2023. Applications must be received in the Assessors by the close of business at 4:30 p.m. Mailed applications will also be accepted if they are postmarked by the U. S. Post Office by no later than February 1. Applications can be obtained at the Assessor’s Office, or by accessing the link here.

No. The law prohibits this. Elected officials cannot decrease an assessment based upon hardship or for any other reason. By law, assessments must be determined by the Assessors according to State DOR regulations. Assessments cannot be arbitrarily lowered to reduce the tax liability. Only the Assessors have authority to grant abatements under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 59 and reductions are granted only if additional information indicates that the value should be lowered.

All residential property owners who occupied their property as their primary residence as of the previous January 1, may apply for a residential exemption, which is in effect a tax discount. You can pick up an application at the Assessor’s Office or print one here. Applications are due in the Assessor’s Office by no later than April 3, 2022, at 4:30 p.m. Taxpayers need not file a new application each year although the Assessors periodically send out notices for taxpayers to recertify their eligibility. Taxpayers who move should notify the Assessors of a change of address.

State law affords a number of property tax discounts or what are known as statutory exemptions as well as options for seniors to work-off a portion of their tax bill or, if eligible, to defer payment. Exemptions can be granted for seniors, widows, veterans and others based upon, in most cases, asset and income guidelines. Please contact the Assessor’s Office to discuss your situation and how to apply. Walk-ins during business hours are always welcome or call (617) 625-6600 x3100. Applications can also be downloaded here; just select the appropriate statutory exemption application link in the list.

Proposition 2 1/2 caps the percent increase over the previous year in total property tax dollars collected for all properties in the city combined. In other words, without an override, a city may not collect property taxes in total from all sources that exceed 2 ½ percent more than the previous year. However, the limit does not apply to individual properties. Some properties undergo improvements or require adjustments due to inspection that increase an individual property’s value by more than 2 ½ percent. For example, a $400,000 two-family that undergoes improvements that raise its value to $600,000 increased in value by $200,000 or 50%. That $200,000 increase is what is known as “new growth.” The additional values created by new growth and the resulting tax dollars are exempt from the limits of Proposition 2 1/2. In Somerville, new growth can be captured up to June 30th prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Any improvements are assessed as if in existence on the prior January 1 and are not part of the 2 1/2 percent limit.

There are several reasons why the Assessors inspect properties including sales verification for properties that have sold, building permit review, and remeasure-relist for properties that have not been inspected in some time. While no property owner is required to permit an inspection, failure to do so will require that the Board of Assessors estimates your property’s interior condition and features. The estimate could lead to an incorrect or misleading assessment. If the property owner has filed an appeal, failure to grant the inspection will require that the Board disallow the appeal. The Assessors rely on the cooperation of taxpayers to ensure a fair and equitable process leading to the development of fair and equitable assessments. The inspection process is therefore of vital importance to both the Assessors and taxpayers. Inspections can also be beneficial to the property owner by correcting bad data that caused an overvaluation.

Classification is a system under State law that allows cities and towns to have one tax rate for commercial property and a different rate for residential property. Whether or not a municipality will classify is a decision recommended by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. Somerville has a long history of approving classification, which allows a greater percentage of the tax liability (an additional 175%) to be shifted to the commercial sector. For example, in FY 2022, commercial value was 15.69% of total value. However, with classification, instead of the commercial sector covering only 15.69% of the property tax levy, their contribution was increased to 27.47%. The more commercial value we have, the greater the commercial tax levy contribution and the smaller the residential share.

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