Massachusetts Personal Property Tax
The Personal Property Tax is assessed separately from real estate. This tax is assessed upon non-real estate, tangible assets. These assets are composed of goods, material objects and other things capable of material ownership that are not part of real estate.
Personal property is assessed by the town where the property is “situated” on the assessment date. In limited circumstances personal property may be assessed by the community in which the owner is an inhabitant on January 1st, even if the property is located in another community on that day. This primarily applies to items that may not be permanently situated in a town, such as construction equipment.
The assessment date for the Fiscal Year is the January 1st preceding the start of the Fiscal Year. Each business is assessed based on its existence on the assessment date. Thus any business that existed on January 1st would be billed for the entire fiscal year. This applies to businesses that have closed or relocated during the year so that any business that closed or relocated after Jan 1st will still be billed for the entire Fiscal Year. It should be noted that the reverse of this situation is also true in that any business that opens after Jan 1st will not be billed for the Fiscal Year.
The personal property tax is levied principally on business and is based upon the non-real estate, tangible assets of the business. Each business must file a personal property Form of List (State Tax Form 2) with the assessor’s office by March 1st. This form enables a business to provide a list of its current assets to the Board of Assessors. Unincorporated businesses must report on all machinery used in the conduct of business except for that machinery used only for administrative purposes. Classified manufacturers need only report on: poles, underground conduits, wires and pipes. Abatements must be filed only on the 3rd quarter tax bill. The application must be received no later than the due date of the bill.
A form of List (State Tax Form 2) must be filed each year by all individuals, partnerships, associations, trusts and corporations that own or hold personal property on January 1st unless expressly exempt. A form of List must be filed by March 1st with the Board of Assessors unless an extension is granted. Request for an extension must be made in writing to the assessors and can only be granted for 30 days.
The information in the Form of List is used by the Board of Assessors to determine the taxable or exempt status of personal property and, if taxable, its fair market value. The Assessors may request further information about the personal property in writing and seek cooperation to inspect it if necessary. Forms of List are confidential and therefore are not available to the public for inspection under the public records law. They are available only to the Board of Assessors and Massachusetts Department of Revenue for the purpose of administering the tax laws.