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The Assessors are required by Massachusetts Law to list and value all real and personal property. Valuation is subject to ad valorem taxation, which requires the Assessors to tax property according to value. Assessed values in Massachusetts are based on full and fair cash value or 100% fair market value.
Assessors are required to submit these values to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Revenue for certification every three years. The Assessors review property values in interim years, as well. This allows the taxpayer to pay his or her fair share of the cost of local government in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth annually, rather than every three years.
The Rockland Assessors’ Office assesses approximately 5,900 parcels of real property and 360 personal property accounts.
The Assessors do not raise or lower taxes or create the laws that affect property owners. The Massachusetts Constitution requires that direct taxes on persons and property be proportionately and reasonably imposed. Taxes must be raised annually in an amount sufficient to cover the state and local appropriations chargeable to the Town. These taxes levied will include state taxes, which have been duly certified to the Board, Town taxes voted by the Town (including Proposition 2 1/2), and all taxes voted and certified by the annual town meeting.
The Assessors are not involved with the collection of taxes. It is the responsibility of the Assessors to apportion the tax burden according to the value of the properties in town, thus, allowing property owners to pay their fair share of taxes.
The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within the Town, and is the basis for the budget needed or demanded by the voters to provide for services, such as schools, roads, and law enforcement. Tax rates are simply those rates, or tax dollars per one thousand dollars of assessed valuation, which will provide funds necessary to pay for those services.
Proposition 2 1/2 places constraints on the amount of taxes that the town can levy and on how much the tax levy can be increased from year to year. It provides the town with annual increases in its tax levy of 2.5% and an additional amount based on the valuation of allowable new growth. With proposition 2 1/2, a minimum 2.5% increase in the total tax levy can be expected each year. For more information visit Division of Local Services’ Proposition 2 1/2 Primer.
To arrive at full and fair cash value for your property through mass appraisal, the assessors must know what willing sellers and willing buyers are doing in the Rockland sales market. The Assessors must collect and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value. The Assessors must￼ analyze sales and sales trends occurring in the Town of Rockland each year in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue guidelines. Three standardized appraisal approaches to value are used: market, cost and income. The data is then correlated into a final value.
The object of the valuation program is to estimate reasonable cash value as of January 1 (known as the "assessment date") prior to the fiscal year. For example, the assessment date for Fiscal Year 2012 is January 1, 2011. Therefore, sales of calendar 2010 are used in the fiscal year 2012 analysis to determine full and fair cash value.
When the people vote additional spending at town meeting there is the potential for an increase in taxes to occur. If you were to make improvements to your property, such as, adding a garage or additional living area, the assessed value would also increase.
When market value increases, the Assessors seek to adjust the assessed values accordingly. In adjusting assessed values the Assessor does not create value; residents create value by their transactions in the marketplace. Depending both on the types of shifts in assessed value within the town and on the actions of the town’s budget producing bodies, this process of keeping assessments in line with the real estate market can result in an increase in taxes.
If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessment value, feel free to come into the Assessors’ Office and research the valuation. The staff is willing to answer any questions about the valuation and assessment procedures. View more information on our Assessment Disagreements page.
Several exemptions are available under Massachusetts General Law to reduce property tax obligations for certain qualifying taxpayers. View more information on our Reduction from Real Estate Taxes page.