In Massachusetts, assessors are elected or appointed locally. State law requires each assessor to list and assess the value all real and personal property in a city or town.
These assessed valuations are subject to annual ad valorem taxation, meaning taxed "according to value." In Massachusetts, assessed values are based on "full and fair cash value," which is 100% of fair market value.
Each year, assessors review local sales and market data and reassess property values, so that, on an annual basis, each property owner pays a fair share of the cost of local government, as prescribed in the Article 10 of the Massachusetts Constitution.
The Assessors Office also:
- Administers excises taxes on motor vehicles and boats.
- Oversees "betterments," a special assessment of any properties that receive benefits or advantages greater than the general community receives from the construction of a public improvement like a new sidewalk or water and sewer infrastructure.
Assessors do not make laws, or raise or lower taxes. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within the community, and is the basis for the budget needed to provide for services, such as schools, roads, and public safety.