In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all real estate and personal property taxes are assessed on a fiscal year basis. The fiscal year runs from July 1st through the following June 30th. Taxes may be collected either semi-annually or quarterly. In 1998, Spencer town meeting voted to adopt the quarterly method of collection for real estate and personal property tax bills. The chronology for the collection of these bills each year is as follows:
On June 30 of each year, Preliminary tax bills are mailed to taxpayers. The Preliminary bills are based upon the prior year's tax obligation, taking into consideration any betterments that increased the bill and any exemptions or abatements which would have reduced it. The base amount of the Preliminary bill is 50% of this prior year total. The Board of Assessors may, at its discretion, adjust this amount to reflect any known imminent tax incease, such as a new debt exclusion or prop 2 1/2 override. This final amount is then divided in half, with the first half being due on August 1 and the second half due on November 1. You may pay both quarters in August if you wish.
By state law, Preliminary tax bills cannot show either a valuation for the property or a tax rate. Likewise, elderly and veterans exemptions will not show up on these bills.
The bill form is one 8 x 11 sheet divided into three parts. The bottom section, Payment Coupon 1, should be remitted with your August 1 payment. The middle section is Payment Coupon 2, and should be remitted with your November 1 payment. The top section is for your records. If you pay in person and wish to have your payment receipted, make sure to bring the entire bill with you. The top part of the bill will be stamped with the date and amount of payment. This will be returned to your for our records.
Any amount that is not paid the the appropriate due date is then subject to 14% interest per annum from the due date to the date of payment. Interest accrues daily.
On December 31, Actual tax bills are mailed. The actual bill is based upon the tax rate for that particular year multiplied by the parcel ( or personal property) valuation. The amount that had been previously billed as Preliminary tax is then substracted from that total and the resultant balance is divided in half. The first half of the Actual tax bill is due on February 1 and the second half on May 1.
Actual tax bills must show the value of the parcel or personal property and the tax rate. They are also required to show the last date that an abatement may be aplied for, which by stature, is February 1.
Payments not made by the appropriated due dates are again subject to interest at 14% annum.
Like the Preliminary bill, The Actual bill is an 8 x 11 sheet which is divided into three parts. The bottom section, Payment Coupon 1, should be remitted with your February 1 payments, and the middle section, Payment Coupon 2, should be remitted with your May 1 payment. The top section should be retained for your ecords. If you pay in person and require a receipt, please bring the entire bill with you. The top part of the bill will be stamped with the date and amount
payment is made.
Any balance on the bill which remains unpaid after May 1 is subject to a statutory Demand charge. By state law, the Demand charge is a Flat $5.00 per bill, regardless of the amount that remains unpaid and overdue. There is a 14 day due period after demands are sent before any further action may be taken.