An Early Christmas Present: City Tax Rate Drops for Residential and Commercial Payers

There’s some good news for East Boston homeowners this New Year. Last week the City of Boston released the property tax rates for Fiscal Year 2014 and is down for both residential and commercial properties. This could save Eastie homeowners around $70 per year.

For FY 2014 tax rate for residential property is $12.58 per thousand dollars of valuation. The rate for business properties is $31.18 per thousand. Last fiscal year’s rates for residential and business properties were $13.14 and $31.96, respectively.

City Assessors said the real estate market in Boston is healthy, with many neighborhoods exhibiting signs of appreciation over the prior year.

According to Zillow Eastie home values will increase 7.1 percent next year, compared to 3.6 percent rise for Boston as a whole.

As a result, many homeowners will see changes in their assessments to reflect the improving market.  However, the impact of the Proposition 2 ½ limits on the tax levy and the state tax rate classification formula will reduce the residential tax rate.  As a result, the average single family property tax bill will decrease slightly, from $3,480 last year to $3,417, a reduction of $63.

“Any little bit of reduction will help homeowners here,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “A reduction in the tax rate coupled with many families receiving an owner-occupied exemption will mean savings on monthly mortgage bills.”

The average residential tax bill in Boston is 29 percent below last year’s statewide average of $4,846. The City has a number of programs for eligible property tax owners to lower their tax bills, including the residential exemption. This exemption is available to taxpayers who own and occupy their home as the principal residence. The residential exemption will save qualifying taxpayers $1,763.84 off their tax bills in Fiscal 2014.

In addition to the residential exemption, Mayor Thomas Menino has initiated other measures during his tenure to ease the property tax burden. They include increasing the property tax exemption for elderly taxpayers with limited incomes from $500 to $750.

Additionally, the City of Boston offers exemptions for qualified homeowners who are blind, surviving spouses, or veterans (with a wartime service-related disability). The City also offers a tax deferral program for those elderly homeowners whose current expenses make the continued ownership of their home difficult. To qualify for Fiscal 2014, taxpayers must be age 65 or older and have an income of less than $55,000 per year. The amount of the deferred taxes, plus interest accruing at a rate of 4 percent per year, must be repaid when the property is sold or upon the passing of the owner.

Menino and the Boston City Council also extended for a period of 2 years a tax relief program for those members of the National Guard or Military Reserve serving overseas during the tax year. Applicants who qualify for the National Guard Exemption will receive a 100 percent reduction in real estate taxes. To be eligible, applicants must be an active National Guard Member or Military Reservist serving in a foreign country during the fiscal year; possess a sufficient ownership interest in the property, defined as at least $2,000 in value, for the fiscal year in question; and own the property as his or her primary residence either solely, as a joint owner, or as a tenant in common.

The 3rd quarter tax bills containing assessments and new tax rates will be mailed at the end of December. Payments for the 3rd quarter bill are due February 3, 2014.

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