How Is Property Tax Determined in MA?

Property tax rates in Massachusetts are determined each fiscal year during the budget process conducted by cities and towns.  Tax rates vary and require state approval.  The type of property taxes include residential, commercial, and industrial.  Understanding residential tax is very important to more accurately estimate the overall cost of home ownership.

Residential Tax Rate Comparison in MA

My MA Residential Tax Comparison FY22 provides a comparison of residential tax rates and residential exemption savings (where available) for fiscal year 2022 in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Medford, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown, Massachusetts.  In addition, the tax comparison includes rates from fiscal years 2000, 2010, and 2018 through 2021 for historical perspective.  For example, the comparison shows the residential tax rate in Cambridge MA decreasing over 3 percent from 9.64 in fiscal year 2000 to 5.92 in fiscal year 2022.

MA Residential Tax Rates

Per $1,000 of assessed value

Residential TaxFY22
Arlington MA11.42
Belmont MA11.56
Boston MA10.88
Brookline MA10.19
Cambridge MA5.92
Medford MA9.01
Somerville MA10.18
Waltham MA11.14
Watertown MA13.25

How Is Real Estate Tax Calculated?

To calculate the real estate tax for a home you will need the current assessed value and the residential tax rate.  Tax rates are stated as per $1,000 of assessed value.  Thus you need to first divide the assessed value by 1,000 and then multiply that result by the tax rate.

Here is how to calculate the real estate tax for a home with an assessed value of $750,000 and a residential tax rate of 5.92:

  • 750,000 divided by 1,000 = 750
  • 750 x 5.92 = 4,440

The annual real estate tax for the home in this example is $4,440.

How To Lower Property Tax in Massachusetts

There are several types of tax exemptions available in Massachusetts which can help to reduce your annual taxes.  Each city and town provides the type of tax exemptions approved during their budget process.  You will find more details about the qualifications and application process for exemptions on the city or town official website.

Several cities and towns offer a “Residential Exemption*” which can significantly lower your annual tax burden if you occupy your primary residence.

In fiscal year 2022 the residential exemption in Cambridge MA provides annual tax savings up to $2,623; in Somerville MA the residential exemption offers a tax savings up to $3,659.64 per year.

What Does “Fiscal Year” Mean?

The fiscal year in Massachusetts begins on July 1 and ends June 30 of the following calendar year.  Residential tax rates, residential exemption savings, and property assessed values are updated each fiscal year.

When Are Property Taxes Collected?

Taxes are usually collected on a quarterly basis in Massachusetts with tax payments being due in August, November, February, and May.  In some cities and towns such as Cambridge MA, taxes are collected twice a year in November and May.

Where To Find Property Tax Information

I recommend that property tax information be verified directly with the city or town to ensure you receive the most current tax rate and assessed value for the property.  Most residential tax bills are now available online or can also be verified by contacting the assessor or tax collector directly.

Tax information is typically provided in MLS Listings (Multiple Listing Service); however, these services do not verify accuracy of the tax information with the city or town assessor or tax collector.

Always consult with a licensed tax professional for any questions regarding real estate taxes and tax liability.

MA Tax Information Online

To research tax information online, I recommend visiting the official website for each city or town as a starting point.  Then search for the assessing or tax collection department to find their contact information or property assessed values and property tax rates.  The list below provides the official website for Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville MA.

Market Statistics

The following market statistics include the average sale price, median sale price, and the ratio for sale price to original price.  When you are ready to sell your home or buy a new home; I will compile in-depth statistics for recently sold homes with the most comparable features in the same city, town, and zip code.

Tamela Roche Photo

Tamela Roche

Contact me today to schedule a Home Buyer Consultation when you are ready to purchase a new home in Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Medford, or Somerville, Massachusetts.  We will review real estate taxes and the residential exemption in more detail.

About Tamela            Massachusetts Real Estate License #9041852