Property taxation in Massachusetts is administered at the local level by tax assessors in each of the state’s 351 cities and towns with guidance and review provided by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Despite that agency’s efforts to impose centralized standards and to promulgate regulations designed to achieve uniformity in taxing practices across the state, many local assessing offices simply do not have adequate staff or available resources to accurately determine annual valuations for assessment purposes. For complex commercial properties, this difficult task is compounded during periods when the financial and commercial property markets move rapidly in one direction or another, as they have recently.
Massachusetts is not unlike many states in terms of the fiscal problems it faces. Because of the severe constraints on municipal budgets, the ever increasing costs of local government and the diminishment of local aid revenues from the federal and state governments, there is continuing pressure to achieve maximum revenues through property taxes. These governmental revenue issues do not exist in a vacuum. Indeed, American businesses are faced with the enormous challenge of competing in a global economy. The pressure to operate efficiently and to produce at cost effective levels increases with the passing of every quarter. Shareholders demand results and the stock prices of companies that do not deliver earnings at forecasted levels are punished quickly. The conflicting agendas of government and business seem to collide annually in the arena of property taxation leading property owners and managers more and more to seek property tax relief.
The procedures for seeking review and reduction of assessments are governed by statute and the formalities, which must be followed, are extremely stringent. The procedural rules favor the assessors and any missteps by taxpayers are fatal to their rights. Accordingly, property owners and managers who wish to seek tax relief must proceed with caution. In many instances, hiring experienced counsel early in the abatement process allows for the coordination and timely filing of various statutory Information Requisitions routinely issued by municipalities, engaging and meeting with local tax authority officials, as well as determining the need, if any, of hiring or working with independent real estate appraisers or other professional experts. Such early involvement often results in a prompt resolution of issues without protracted litigation.
Attorney John M. Lynch
Attorney John M. Lynch has specialized in tax abatement procedures for over three decades. Mr. Lynch’s valuation experience includes special purpose and utility property, laboratory and research and development uses, signature urban office buildings and suburban office parks, market and subsidized multi-unit apartment and mixed-use complexes, hotels, golf and resort facilities, regional shopping centers, regional distribution centers, box retail and power centers, nursing homes, and independent and assisted living facilities.
Mr. Lynch’s representative clients include a broad range of publicly held businesses, local and national corporations and non-profit organizations, including colleges, universities, hospitals, museums and cultural organizations.