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Relief for Taxpayers: Massachusetts Legislature Gives Option to Defer Property Tax Payments

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, as part of its ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts legislature passed a Bill Providing Immediate Relief to Municipalities & Others During COVID-19 Crisis. This new law provides municipalities with the option to extend the property tax payment deadline from May 1 to June 1, 2020. All interest accumulated between May 1 and June 1, 2020 will be waived. There is some disagreement on whether interest accumulated between June 1 and June 30, 2020 can be waived as well.

Sections 10(a)(i-iii) of the bill include a local option to extend the due dates of property tax bills under G.L. c. 59, §§ 57 and 57C from April 1, 2020 (for semi-annual billing communities with annual preliminary bills) or May 1, 2020 to a date not later than June 1, 2020. This local option applies to both semi-annual tax billing communities and quarterly tax billing communities. The option may only be exercised by the chief executive officer of a city, town or district. Unless another municipal office is designated to be the chief executive officer under the provisions of a local charter, the appropriate chief executive officers for each are as follows: Mayor (City); Board of Selectmen (Town); Prudential Committee or Commissioners (District).

It is important to note that the statute only gives each municipality the option to extend the deadline. It does not automatically extend the deadline. As such, the executive officer of each municipality must take action to exercise the option.

As of April 10, the following municipalities have exercised the option to extend the filing deadline: Andover, Boston, Brockton, Braintree, Chelsea, Chelmsford, Dedham, Everett, Hingham, Haverhill, Malden, Mansfield, Newton, Needham, Middleborough, Medford, Peabody, Quincy, Randolph, Somerville, Springfield, Woburn, Waltham, Worcester. Other municipalities are meeting next week, and we expect more are likely to follow suit.

We will continue to provide guidance as the situation develops and the list of municipalities exercising the option expands.

.If you have questions concerning the new regulations or any condominium-related matters, please contact a member of our Real Estate Tax & Abatement practice.