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The forest land classification program is designed to encourage the preservation and enhancement of the Commonwealth’s forests. It offers significant property tax benefits to owners willing to make a long-term commitment to forestry. In exchange for these benefits, the town is given the right to recover some of the tax benefits afforded the owner when the land is removed from classification and an option to purchase the property if the land is sold or used for non-forestry uses.
A parcel must consist of at least ten contiguous acres of land under the same ownership and be managed under a ten year management plan approved and certified by the State Forester in order to qualify for and retain classification as forest land.
The property owner must submit a written application to the State Forester before July 1 of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought. Before September 1, the owner then submits a written application to the Board of Assessors henceforth annually.
Under chapter 61, the owner still pays annual property tax. However, the tax is based on the commercial rate applied to five percent of the fair market value of the land. The owner must also pay a products tax annually based on eight percent of the stumpage value of the forest products cut from the parcel during the prior calendar year.
CHAPTER 61A AGRICULTURAL/ HORTICULTURAL LAND
The agricultural/horticultural land classification program is designed to encourage the preservation of the commonwealth’s valuable farmland and promote active agricultural and horticultural land use. It offers significant property tax benefits to owners willing to make a long-term commitment to farming. In exchange for these benefits, the town is given the right to recover some of the tax benefits afforded the owner and an option to purchase the property should the land be sold or used for any purpose other than to continue raising farm products.
The property must be at least five acres under the same ownership and be "actively devoted" to agricultural or horticultural use in order to qualify for and retain classification. An equal amount of contiguous, non-productive land may also qualify.
Land is used for agricultural purposes if it is used primarily and directly to raise or grow the following for sale in the regular course of business: Animals including bur not limited to dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules, goats, bees and fur-bearing animals.
Fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts and other foods for human consumption, feed for animals, tobacco, flowers, sod, trees, nursery and greenhouse products.
Forest products under a forest management plan approved by the State Forester. For the land to be considered "actively devoted" to farm use, it must have been farmed for the two fiscal years prior to the year of classification and must have produced a certain amount of sales. The minimum gross sales requirement is $500 for the first five acres of productive land. That amount is increased by $5 for each additional acre of productive land being classified, unless the additional acreage is woodland or wetland. In that case, the amount is increased by only $.50 for each additional acre. The minimum gross sales requirement for land being used to cultivate or raise a farm product, that takes more than one season to produce its first harvest, is satisfied if the land is used in a manner intended to produce those sales within the product development period set by the Farmland Valuation Advisory Commission.
The property owner must submit a written application to the Board of Assessors by October 1 of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought. The owner must file a separate application by October 1 each year for classification of the land to continue into the next fiscal year. The land cannot be classified as agricultural/horticultural for a fiscal year if the owner does not comply with all application deadlines and procedures.
Under Chapter 61A, the owner still pays annual property tax. However, the tax is based on the commercial rate applied to the value in use of the agricultural land, rather than its fair market value. The value in use is established annually by the Farmland Valuation Advisory Commission.
CHAPTER 61B RECREATIONAL LAND
The recreation land classification program is designed to encourage the preservation of the Commonwealth’s open space and promote recreational land use. It offers significant property tax benefits to owners willing to make a long-term commitment to preserving land in an undeveloped condition or for use for outdoor activities. In exchange for these benefits, the town is given the right to recover some of the tax benefits afforded the owner when the land is removed from classification. The town is also given an option to purchase the property if the land is sold or used for any purpose other than to maintain open space or recreational use.
Property must be at least five contiguous acres under the same ownership in order to qualify for and retain classification. The land must fall into one of the following categories to qualify:
Must be maintained in a substantially natural, wild or open condition or must be maintained in a landscaped condition permitting the preservation of wildlife and natural resources. It does not have to be open to the public, but can be held as private, undeveloped, open space.
Must be used for certain recreational purposes and must be open to the public or members of a non-profit organization. Recreational purposes include land used primarily for outdoor activities, so long as they do not materially interfere with the environmental benefits of the land such as hiking, camping, nature study/ observation, boating, golfing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, skiing, swimming, picnicking, private non-commercial flying, hang gliding, archery and target shooting.
The property owner must submit a written application to the Board of Assessors by October 1 of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought. The owner must file a separate application by October 1 each year for classification of the land to continue into the next fiscal year. The land cannot be classified as recreational for a fiscal year if the owner does not comply with all application deadlines and procedures.
Under Chapter 61B, the owner still pays annual property tax. However, the tax is based on the commercial rate applied to the value in land for recreational purposes, rather than its fair market value. The value of the land for recreational purposes is determined annually by the assessors not to exceed twenty-five percent of the fair market value of the land.
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS UNDER CLASSIFIED CHAPTER LAND PROGRAMS
Once an application has been approved, the Board of Assessors will record a statement at the Registry of Deeds indicating that the parcel has been classified under a chapter program. That statement will constitute a lien on the parcel for all taxes due under Chapter 61.
MUNICIPAL OPTION TO PURCHASE
The town has the option to purchase any of the classified land whenever it is sold or converted to residential, commercial or industrial use. It is the obligation of the property owner to notify by certified mail the selectmen, assessors, planning board and conservation commission of his intention to sell or convert land to those purposes. If the owner plans to sell the land, the town has the right to match a bona fide offer to purchase it. The town has the right to purchase it at its fair market value, which is to be determined by impartial appraisal. The town my also assign its option to a non-profit, conservation organization. The classified land may not be sold or converted until at least one hundred twenty days have passed since the mailing of the required notices or until the owner has been notified in writing that the option will not be exercised, whichever is earlier.
The option does not apply if the owner plans to build a residence for his use, or the use of his parent, grand parent, child, grandchild, brother or sister, the surviving spouse of any of those relatives, or an employee working full-time in the classified use of the parcel.
Whenever any of the land is withdrawn or removed from classification, whether or not it is subject to the purchase option and notice requirement, a withdrawal penalty tax must be paid. The owner must pay a rollback tax for a five or ten-year period depending on which program the land is classified in. Rollback tax is the difference between the amount the owner would have paid in annual property taxes if the land had been taxed at its fair market value and the amount of taxes he has paid under chapter classification. Interest charges are applicable for properties classified under Chapters 61 and 61B.
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The Board of Assessors looks for persuasive evidence before changing any assessment. Applications should include a complete description of factual errors. For example, errors in number of baths, year built, square footage of living area etc. Factual errors usually require a site visit. Or, if you believe your property is over-assessed, provide an analysis of comparable sale properties with your abatement application. The analysis should include at least three recent sales of homes that are similar to yours in characteristics such as style, living area, number of bedrooms, lot size and location. Property record cards are available to support your claim.
You will receive a notice of decision on your application within three months of the date you filled an application. If an abatement is granted, your second half tax bill will be reduced by the amount of abatement. If the Board of Assessors denies your application, there is an additional appeal process available. The appeal must be filed within ninety days of the Board of Assessors decision by contacting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board, 399 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108-5292, (617) 727-3100. Forms are available on the Appellate Tax Board web site.
Filing an application for abatement does not stay the collection of your taxes. In order to preserve your rights of appeal, pay the tax when due.
The Board of Assessors relies on accurate information to ensure fair value estimates. New construction and remodeling information is collected annually in the spring and summer. Lincoln has in place a statutory local option that allows the town to assess all new construction through June 30.
Homes that have recently sold are inspected as well as one sixth of the improved property inventory in town. If you purchase a home, we usually request inspection within the year. If your street is included in the one-sixth cyclical inspection program, a notice will be sent several weeks before we begin data collection. The names and vehicle registration numbers of all field personnel are on file with the Lincoln Police Department should you wish to verify the identity of an appraiser who requests inspection of your property when our office is not open.
We inspect the interior and exterior details of each residence, the overall condition and amenities present and the location. During the inspection key features such as style, number of bedrooms, number of baths and dimensions of the property are recorded. We appreciate your cooperation in allowing appraisers access to your property.
Details of each parcel in town can be reviewed using our public access system. Copies of property records can be obtained through the public access system during normal business hours. Updated tax maps and deeds are also available for examination and purchase. If we do not have a deed, copies are available at the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds Southern District at 208 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA, 8AM to 4PM Monday through Friday (617) 679-6300. You can also access deeds through the Registry of Deeds web site at www.cambridgedeeds.com. Recent sale reports of single-family, condominium residences and unimproved land are available at our office counter.
Plot plans are available only in the Building Department. Please call Elaine Carroll (781) 259-2613.
ELDERLY(Clause 41C) $2000 • At least 65 years of age on July 1 • Owns & occupies property on July 1 of tax year • Lived in MA for 10 years & owned property in MA for 5 years • Gross receipts less than $20,000 if single; $30,000 if married • Assets less the value of home $40,000 if single; $55,000 if married SURVIVING SPOUSE, MINOR CHILD, ELDERLY (Clause 17D) $474.50 for fiscal year 2007 • Surviving spouse or w/minor child owns & occupies property as domicile • At least 70 years of age; owned & lived at property as domicile for 5 years • Total assets $40,000 excluding value and unpaid mortgage balance on property • No limitations on annual income for eligibility under Clause 17D BLIND PERSON (Clause 37A) $1000 • Annual proof of blindness by providing either a Certificate from Commission for the Blind attesting to legal blindness or letter from doctor certifying blindness in accordance w/commission • Blind person owns property as domicile on July 1 VETERAN (Clause 22) $800 • War service disability of at least 10% as determined by Veterans Administration • Veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart • Gold Star mothers & fathers • Spouses & surviving spouses of veterans entitled to exemption • Surviving unremarried spouses of WWI veterans as long as total assets less mortgage on the property does not exceed $20,000 VETERAN (Clause 22A) $1500 • Suffered loss in line of duty or permanent loss of use of one foot, hand or eye • Received the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or Air Force Cross. • If property type other than single family, portion of $425 exemption which corresponds to the segment occupied by veteran will be allowed VETERAN (Clause 22B) $2500 • Veterans & spouses who suffered loss in line of duty or permanent loss of use of both feet or both hands or eyes. • If property type other than single family, portion of $775 exemption which corresponds of the segment occupied by veteran will be allowed VETERAN (Clause 22C) $3000 • veterans & spouses who suffered total disability in the line of duty or received assistance in acquiring "specially adapted housing" owned and occupied as domicile • If property type other than single family, portion of $950 exemption which corresponds to the segment occupied by veteran will be allowed VETERAN (Clause 22D)• Surviving spouses (who have not remarried) of soldiers, sailors or members of the National Guard whose death was a direct result of an injury or disease as a result of being in a combat zone or who have been classified as missing in action as a result of combat. The surviving spouses will receive a full exemption of their property taxes for five years, with the exemption capped at $2,500 in years thereafter. VETERAN (Clause 22E) $2000 • Suffered total disability in line of duty and incapable of working • If property type other than single family, portion of $600 exemption which corresponds to the segment occupied by veteran will be allowed VETERAN (Paraplegic) 100% exemption • Veterans and surviving spouses (who have not remarried) who are certified by Veterans Administration as paraplegic
A qualified applicant enters into a written tax deferral and recovery agreement with the Board of Assessors. A lien on the property is recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Joint owners and/or mortgagees must give prior written approval.
1) At least 60 years of age on July 1 2) Owned and domiciled in property on July 1 3) Annual income not to exceed $60,000
Total taxes deferred not to exceed 50 percent of applicant’s interest in property value
SENIOR WORK OFF (Clause 55K) $1,500 1) At least 60 years of age on July 1 2) Owned and occupied property on January 1 or acquired before work is performed. 3) Work compensated at the Massachusetts Minimum Wage up to $1,500.
A religious organization must file a Form 3ABC only if it is seeking exemption for property other than a house of worship or parsonage.
Form PC – A true and complete copy of the charitable organization’s most recent annual report to the Public Charities Division of the Attorney General’s Office (form PC) must be attached to the Form 3ABC. Failure to submit the Form PC also bars the organization from exemption.