State property taxes

This article was circulated with the DOR’s Division of Local Services newsletter I get.  I did not include all its charts, hence the holes you will see.   I thought the two maps were the most interesting.  Medfield is part of the over $10K/year tax belt of red in MetroWest.-

FY2017 Single-Family Residential Tax Bill Andrew Nelson, Supervisor, Bureau of Accounts (BOA) Tony Rassias, Deputy Director, BOA

The State Total single-family residential tax bill for FY2017 is $5,621, an increase of $202 or 3.7 percent from FY2016, according to data captured from 332 of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns in the DLS Muncipal Databank.

In addition, the average value of a single-family residential home was $399,413, the highest value since the FY2008 average value of $403,705, which was set as values were starting to drop in the real estate market.

So far in FY2017, with 345 communities reporting valuation data to the Division of Local Services (DLS), single-family residential parcels statewide represent:

  • 66% of all residential class property assessed values;
  • 54% of all property assessed values;
  • 64% of all residential class parcels; and
  • 56% of all class parcels and articles of personal property

Analysis of data for this article is limited to single-family residential parcels, class code 101, and does not include condominiums, multifamily homes or apartment buildings.

This analysis and all charts and graphs included with the exception of Chart 5 do not include communities for which a residential exemption was adopted in any fiscal year, but later in this article presents the impact on their average bill if the property was eligible for the exemption For FY2017 only, the analysis does not include data for six communities for which no tax rate has yet to be certified by the Bureau of Accounts.

This article begins with a review of the State Total single-family residential property tax bill, a calculation performed by DLS for many years. The article then continues with a review of the statewide median of community averages since FY2008 followed by community averages. The article then reviews how both the State Total and statewide median of community averages have fared over time relative to inflation and finally takes a special look at the residential exemption’s impact on the 13 communities that had it in FY2017.

The State Total

Calculation of the State Total presumes that Massachusetts is one local governmental entity for which such a bill would be determined.  While not a median of all community averages, the State Total is presented and may be measured against itself from a prior fiscal year.

Chart 1 presents the calculation of the State Total from FY2008 to FY2017. Note that the State Total has annually increased over this period of time, yet not by more than 4%.

In addition, Chart 1 presents the average value for all single-family residential properties.  The average value decreased from FY2008 to FY2013 by 12.2%, but from FY2013 to FY2017 increased 12.7%.  Overall for the time period shown, the average value decreased by 1%.

Chart 1



The Median of Community Averages

Chart 2 shows the median or midpoint of all community averages for each fiscal year since FY2008.  For FY2017, this median tax bill of $4,745 represents an increase over FY2016’s by $202 or 4.4%



Note: For the six communities without an FY2017 tax rate and not represented in Chart 2, five have historically averaged below and one above the $4,745 median tax bill shown above. If history proves true once again for these communities, the FY2017 median amount shown would drop by less than $50.

The Average by Community

DLS calculates a community’s average single-family residential property tax bill by:

  • dividing the total class code 101 assessed property values in the community by the number of parcels in that community’s class code to establish an average property value for the class; and
  • multiplying that average property value by the community’s residential class tax rate as certified by the Bureau of Accounts for that fiscal year.

The following color-coded maps provide visual representations of the FY2017 community averages around the State as well as their dollar changes from FY2016.



This map shows how most of the communities in the western and central parts of Massachusetts have average tax bills at or less than the median of community averages, $4,745. The map also shows a cluster of communities with average tax bills over $10,000 just to the west of Boston.

For a larger version of this map, including community names, click here.


fy17-DOT-tax change map of Massachusetts.jpg

This map, in conjunction with the previous map, shows that although many communities in the western and central parts of Massachusetts had lesser than median average tax bills, a number of them had greater than median average increases from FY2016. The median for all communities that increased their average tax bill was $174.

Statewide, 311 communities increased their average tax bill from FY2016 ranging from $1 in Hampden to $998 in Winchester.

Also seen is that a number of communities actually decreased their average tax bill from FY2016. Statewide, 21 communities did so, ranging from $2 in Sheffield to $305 in Peru. The median for all communities that decreased their average tax bill was $43.

For a larger version of this map, including community names, click here. 


 The Range of Averages

Graph 1 shows that more communities (81) have FY2017 community average single-family property tax bills in the $3,000 to $3,999 range followed by 78 in the $4,000 to $4,999 range category.



Graph 2 shows the number of communities increasing and decreasing their average tax bills from FY2016 to FY2017 on a percentage basis. For example, seven communities decreased their average bill anywhere from greater than1% to 2%. Also, 84 communities increased their average bill anywhere from greater than3% to 4%.

For the 21 communities that decreased their bill, their median percentage decrease was 1.1%. For the 311 communities that increased their average bill, their median percentage increase was 3.5%.

Communities that decreased their average bill ranged from .05% in Sheffield to 8.4% in Peru.  Communities that increased their average bill ranged from .02% in Hampden to 24.4% in Hancock



 The Highest and Lowest Averages

Chart 3 shows the communities having the 10 highest and lowest FY2017 average bills in descending order.



The Statewide Trend in Current and Constant Dollars

Chart 4 shows the State Total and Median of Community Averages in current dollars as presented earlier in this article in relation to a constant dollar, which controls for inflation.

The Chart shows that both the State Total and the Median of Community Averages dollar amounts have outpaced the rate of inflation over the time period shown.

For example, the Median of Community Averages FY2008 current dollar figure of $3,470 adjusted for inflation represents a constant dollar figure of $3,900 in FY2017.  FY2017 in current dollars is $4,745. As of FY2017 then, the current dollar figure has outpaced the constant dollar figure by $845 or 18%.

Note that the State Total is always in excess of the Median. As was stated earlier in this article, these two dollar amounts may be compared to themselves from a prior fiscal year but are not comparable to each other.



The Residential Exemption Communities

Thirteen communities that adopted a residential exemption are not included in either the State Total or Median Averages as the Bureau of Accounts does not receive sufficient information as to how many class code 101 residential properties are eligible for the exemption in those communities.

For those 13 communities, however, Chart 5 shows the FY2017 dollar impact of the residential exemption on single-family residential properties (1) assessed at the community’s median value and (2) deemed qualified to receive the exemption.  More information on this exemption can be found in the October 16, 2014 edition of City & Town.



For More Information

For more information on the State Total, Average Bills for Communities and Statewide Rankings, please visit the DLS Databank.

The authors would like to thank Theo Kalivas of DLS’ Technical Assistance Bureau for his assistance in creating the color-coded maps used in this analysis.

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