Friday, November 7, 2003
Town may levy supplemental tax on property improvements
Under a new law (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 Section 2D) the town may decide to reassess and tax a property immediately after improvements are completed. The supplemental tax is only permitted on parcels that have received an occupancy permit and have increased more than 50% in value. Typically a new homeowner enjoys a "grace period" during the first year of occupancy until the full value of the residence is recognized on the next assessment date. This new law allows the full value to be realized as soon as the occupancy permit is issued.
Up to now, the town software didn't allow the town to send out a few off-schedule property tax bills during the year. This limitation was "totally unacceptable" to Selectman Vivian Chaput. "Why can't we?" she challenged at the October 28 Selectmen's meeting. "We know when the occupancy permit is issued. We know the price paid. I think we should do it!" Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie explained that such an interim assessment previously required halting and disrupting normal business operations while the town's admittedly deficient software is temporarily patched. However the software company has recently become more responsive and such random tax bills may now be feasible.
The only question remaining is whether such reassessments generated enough revenue to make it worthwhile. Carlisle Principal Assessor John Speidel admitted, "There's not a lot of money involved. There were only 14 occupancy permits last year." But for Chaput, "It's a matter of equity and fairness." Even if the revenue gain is a mere $5,000 to $10,000, this made sense to the other board members in view of the town's tight budget. Since state law already allows the supplemental tax assessment, the Selectmen agreed to authorize the new policy if the Board of Assessors is willing to implement it.
© 2003 The