William J. Ford, Assessor
The City Assessor is required by Massachusetts Law to list and value all real and personal property, within the City of Worcester. Valuation is subject to ad valorem (according to value) taxation on the assessment roll of each year. Assessed values in Massachusetts are based on “100% full and fair cash value”, or the fair market value as of the valuation date.
The Assessing Division must collect, record and analyze a great deal of information, including property and market characteristics, sales verification analysis, up-to-date construction costs and any changes in zoning, and economic conditions. The City of Worcester Assessing Division uses the three recognized appraisal approaches to value: cost, income and market. This data is then correlated into a final value.
Prior to the issuing of tax bills, the City must submit the values to the State Department of Revenue for annual and triennial certifications.
FY2018 Tax Rates
Residential: $18.91 / $1,000
Commercial: $34.03 / $1,000
Property is assessed at 100% of full and fair cash value.
You may do so online. See Change Mailing Address for more information.
Go to the Property Records Search or, if you need certified owner information you can either (a) go in to the Assessor's Office for this information or (b) mail in a request for information, with an inquiry fee of $1.00 per parcel. All properties listed on the Assessing web site are sorted by street address, owners' name or by Map, Block and Lot number. Deeds showing ownership are available from the Worcester County Registry of Deeds.
It is the assessor's job to ensure that properties are assessed fairly. If your assessment is correct and your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor should concern the assessment of your property, not the amount of your tax bill.
The tax rates for Fiscal 2018 are as follows: (per thousand)
The tax rates for Fiscal 2017 were as follows: (per thousand)
The amount of a particular property's tax bill is determined by two things: the property's taxable assessment and the tax rate. The assessment is determined by the assessor and should be based on the value of the property; the taxable value is the assessment less any applicable property tax exemptions. The single tax rate is determined by dividing the tax levy to be raised by the applicable total taxable assessed value of the jurisdiction. The tax levy is the revenue necessary for the city to operate, after all other revenue sources (like Federal and State funding) have been deducted from the budget. The rate is further apportioned between the Residential and Commercial classes by the vote of the City Council at the Tax Classification Hearing.
The tax rate is the result of dividing the tax levy, i.e., property tax budget, by the applicable total taxable assessments. For a Split rate, the percentage of the levy of that Class is divided by the total Taxable Assessed Value of the class.
The courts have defined this phrase to mean "current market value," the price arrived at by a willing buyer and a willing seller, each with a good knowledge of the market and each acting without undue pressure or compulsion. Thus, in determining value, assessors seek to approximate what property would sell for on the open market, within an acceptable range of error. The "current market value" is as of the valuation date usually the prior January 1.
The City Assessor is responsible for identifying, locating, and fairly valuing all property, both real and personal, within the city for tax purposes. The "market" value of real property is based on the real estate market as of the valuation date, typically the prior January 1. Finding the "market" value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its condition as of July 1. Determining a fair and equitable value is the only role of this office in the taxing process.
What is important to remember is that the Assessor does not create the value. People determine the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The Assessor has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
The Assessor also tracks ownership changes; maintains maps of parcel boundaries; keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date; accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief; and, most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property.
All this must be done economically - for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to hire someone to independently appraise your property. A progressive computer assisted mass appraisal (C.A.M.A.) system is used by experienced appraisers to ensure that fair values are set for all property owners.
Appraisers are also assisted by our Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) which helps us to provide detailed and up-to-date property ownership maps for field inspections. The G.I.S. system is updated to reflect new changes to the land in the City of Worcester. This information is also used to analyze property data and gives appraisers yet another tool for comparing similar properties.
If you feel the market value of your property is inaccurate or does not reflect fair market value, please contact the assessing division and file an abatement application during the month of January each year. The required Abatement Application form and documentation to support your value must be provided to the assessing division during the abatement period. If the office is unable to resolve the matter as to market value, you may file a petition for adjustment with the Appellate Tax Board.
The combination of the Map, Block and Lot (MBL) is a unique parcel identifier assigned to each individual property in the City of Worcester. For example, Map 02, Block 024 and Lot 00001 (referred to as MBL 0202400001) uniquely identifies the parcel located at 455 Main Street in Worcester.
In most cases, if the deed has been recorded at least 6 weeks prior to the issue date of the tax bill, the new owner will also receive a copy of the tax bill. If you receive a bill within 6 weeks of the sale, please forward it to the new owner immediately as it is his/her responsibility to make payment. (M.G.L. Chapter 60, Section 3)
Tax bills are mailed four times a year. The quarterly tax payments are due on the following dates: August 1st; November 1st; February 1st; May 1st.
The bills are sent thirty (30) days prior to these due dates. Payments are due thirty days from the date the tax bill is issued.
The application for abatement must be filed (received by the Assessor) no later than thirty (30) days after the date on which the "actual" tax bill was issued. January 1st of each year is the scheduled issuance date of the "actual" tax bill.
However, you should ask yourself three questions before filing for an abatement:
The Assessing staff will be happy to assist you to determine whether your assessment is fair and equitable.
You can file an application with the Assessor's Main Office in Room 209, City Hall, 455 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. The abatement period is set by Massachusetts General Laws, as 30 days from the mailing of the Third Quarter actual tax bill, usually January 2 through February 2 each year.
Although the tax bill will bear the name of the assessed owner as of January 1, the new owner is responsible for all taxes once the sale of the property is finalized. The amount of tax owed by the old owner is determined at the time of closing and is typically deducted from the selling price. Once this deduction is made, the new owner must pay all bills, as they become due in order to avoid collection actions, including foreclosure. The lawyers assisting each party should already have investigated any outstanding taxes and obtained a Municipal Lien Certificate. Once the agreement is made, the new owner is obligated to pay any outstanding taxes due on the property.
Search Worcester property records for property card data including values, ownership, land use, etc.