There was a very amusing column in the Opinion section of today’s Southbridge Evening News, reprinted on the author’s blog. It very much describes what it feels like to live in this part of the state sometimes.
The Town of Charlton fiscal year (like for all MA towns) is from July 1 through June 30. So, FY09 was from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, and recently ended.
Property taxes for FY09 are based on the assessed value of property as of January 1, 2008, and were due on August 1, 2008, November 3, 2008, February 2, 2009, and May 1, 2009. The two payments in 2008 are “estimated” based on a guess as to what the taxes would be, and then the estimates are made up for on the two 2009 dates once that actual tax rate data is known, such that the total tax for the year ends up being correct. For FY09, the total was $9.05 per $1,000 assessed value of property.
The upshot of this, is that one don’t know how much the town is assessing one’s property for until the first actual tax bill due at the start of February 2009, which arrives at the end of December 2008. Remember, this is the town’s assessment of how much the house was worth as of January 1, 2008, which you finally discover at the end of December, 2008.
When we got our bill this year, the valuation looked higher than what we thought the property was worth, so we filed an abatement. (An “abatement” is just the formal term for an appeal of the town’s assessment of the property value.) Due to the purchase of my parents’ land, we had an appraisal from our bank from the correct time period, which we delivered to the town as the basis of the appraisal. This was filed in January 2009 (as the deadline for filing was February 1, 2009.)
The Board of Assessors had until May 1, 2009, to make a determination on the abatement application. They of course, took their time investigating, and on April 9 mailed us a notice that our abatement was approved, for a reduction of $162.90 off of our property tax for the year. (Hooray!)
That was the last I heard of it, until today, July 2, 2009, where we finally received a check for that amount, dated June 30. I assume that June 30 was the last day they could legally mail out the check, as that day was the close of the fiscal year.
I’m just amused that it took the entire fiscal year to work out what I was supposed to pay in taxes, based on a year-and-a-half-old assessment date, and I in fact get the check after the fiscal year ended.
Although in retrospect, perhaps it’s not all that different from how we calculate the correct amount of income tax and square up with the government up to several months after the end of the income tax year.