Conway

  • Town of Conway Massachusetts
  • 32 Main Street
  • 413-369-4235
  • Contact Us

Board of Assessors

Additional Page(s)

  • Phone: 413-369-4235 x-5
  • E-mail: assessors@conwayma.gov
  • Lee Whitcomb, Administrative Assessor
    • Hours: usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons
    • By appointment – please call ahead
  • Laurie Lucier, Clerk
    • Mondays: 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Tuesdays: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Wednesdays: 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Thursdays: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. / closed Memorial Day through Labor Day
  • Visit us at Town Hall, 5 Academy Hill Road
  • Write to:
    Conway Board of Assessors
    PO Box 240
    Conway, MA 01341

Meetings are conducted in-person and are open to the public or you can join via Zoom Meeting - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88906379783?pwd=NprQEoFPnwkvxxp7vmo5s-zjy7jXOT.1

  • Zoom Meeting ID:  889 0637 9783
  • Passcode:  boa23

Meeting Schedule: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays

Next 3 meetings:

  • Wed, Dec 21 at 5:15 PM -- Town Hall Office Meeting Space
  • Wed, Jan 4 at 5:15 PM -- Town Hall Office Meeting Space
  • Wed, Jan 18 at 5:15 PM -- Town Hall Office Meeting Space

Members

3 of 3 seats. 3 years each seat.

  • Lee Whitcomb, Chair. 2025.
  • Roxanne Parent. 2023.
  • Russell French. 2024.

The job of the Assessors is to assess property values accurately and fairly. The tax rate is determined by dividing the amount of money appropriated by Town Meeting by the total taxable property values.

Previous meetings:

The Board of Assessors Office Closed

The office of the Board of Assessors will be closed the week of December 26 through 30, 2022.

Important Deadlines

Personal Exemption Applications due January 1st

Exempt Property Applications due March 1st

Chapter 61, 61A, and 61B Applications due October 1st

Real Estate and/or Personal Property Abatement Applications due same day as tax bill due

Motor Vehicle Excise Abatements - up to three years from date bill issued

A multi-layer web-based map of Conway is now available.

On your browser, go to www.axisgis.com/ConwayMA; the program is open to all. The data comes through a link with the Assessors’ Office; assessment data is for the most recent year that has been certified by the State, maps are updated annually, and other information may be added or updated more frequently.

For more information, please read:

TAXPAYER GUIDES

taxpayer guide

MOTOR VEHICLE EXCISE TAX ABATEMENT

An abatement is a reduction of your excise taxes. You can file a motor vehicle excise abatement for the following reasons:

(1) If your vehicle was traded, stolen, or sold during the year it was taxed and you canceled your registration

(2) If you moved to another state, registered your vehicle in the new state and canceled your Massachusetts registration

(3) If you canceled your registration in the year you were taxed

You must provide documentation for each of these reasons. Typically, the documentation must respond to: what happened to the vehicle (for example: bill of sale, insurance settlement letter) and what happened to the plate (plate return receipt or new registration form).

If you think that you are entitled to an adjustment of your excise bill, it is strongly recommended that you pay the bill in full, then file an application for abatement. Although payment of a bill is not a precondition for an abatement, an owner risks incurring late fees and penalties if an abatement is not granted. Abatements can be handled through this online portal, however, the bill should be paid as assessed and a refund will follow if the abatement is granted.

Abatement applications must be received by the assessors within three years after the excise tax was due, or one year after it was paid, whichever is later. To preserve your right to appeal, you must file an abatement on time. By law, assessors may only act on late applications in limited circumstances where the excise is still unpaid and their decision in those cases is final.

Note: You are not entitled to an abatement if you (1) cancel your registration and retain ownership of the vehicle, or (2) move to another Massachusetts city or town, during the calendar year. Abatements are pro-rated monthly. The minimum tax is $5.00. An abatement of less than $5.00 cannot be granted.

Applications are available in the Assessor's Office or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / motor vehicle abatement applications)

MOTOR VEHICLE TAX EXEMPTION

There is an exemption from excise tax for motor vehicles registered with Farm Plates. However, the vehicle cannot be used at all for personal use or the owner is subject to the tax and a $100 penalty.

Chapter 60A, Section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides excise tax exemptions for vehicles owned by non-resident military*, certain disabled individuals and veterans, ex-prisoners of war and their surviving spouses** and certain charitable organizations. Please contact your local assessor for further details on eligibility.

Applications are available in the Assessor's Office or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / motor vehicle abatement applications)


PERSONAL EXEMPTIONS ON LOCAL PROPERTY TAX:

An exemption is a release or discharge from the obligation to pay all or a portion of a local property tax. Exemptions are established by the legislature for particular categories of property or persons and are generally found in "General Laws Chapter 59, Section 5." Exemption is a privilege and a taxpayer must demonstrate that they clearly qualify. Under state law, there are several categories of persons who may be eligible for personal exemption or reduction in their property tax. The law provides exemption for the following categories:

COMMUNITY PRESERVATION FUND INCOME LIMITS FOR FY2023 EXEMPTION

Note: moderate income is 100% of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) areawide median income figure.
Low income is 80% of HUD's areawide median income figure.
Areawide Median Income for Family of 4 $92,200 (for informational purposes)
Moderate Income Limits: property owned and occupied by a senior 60 years or older
Household size: 1 Household size: 2 Household size: 3 Household size: 4 Household size: 5 Household size: 6 Household size: 7 Household size: 8
64,540 73,760 82,980 92,200 99,576 106,952 114,328 121,704
Low Income Limits: property owned and occupied by a non-senior
Household size: 1 Household size: 2 Household size: 3 Household size: 4 Household size: 5 Household size: 6 Household size: 7 Household size: 8
51,632 59,008 66,384 73,760 79,661 85,562 91,462 97,363

All applications for personal exemptions must be filed in the Assessor's Office within three (3) months of the mailing date of the first tax bill of the fiscal year (usually mailed in November.) Forms are available in the Assessor's Office or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / exemption applications)


REAL ESTATE ABATEMENTS

Reasons for an Abatement

  • Overvaluation The assessed value is too high compared to the actual real estate market. For example - valid sales for the calendar year 2021 are the basis for the Fiscal Year 2023 taxes. If an appraisal is being submitted as part of your application keep in mind that the assessment date for the FY2023 tax bill is January 1, 2022.
  • Disproportionate Assessment Property is assessed in excess of assessments of comparable properties.
  • Improper Classification For example - a property is classified as commercial land when it is actually residential land

Application

Abatement applications are available in the Assessors' Office in the Town Hall, at the Tax Collector's Office in the Town Offices, or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / abatement applications)

Filing Deadline

The abatement application must be received in the Assessor's Office after the actual tax bill is issued and no later than the day the bill is due. These deadlines CANNOT be waived by the Board of Assessors for any reason. If your applications is not filed on time, you lose all rights to an abatement and the Assessors cannot by law grant you one.

Note

Stating "my taxes are too high" is not a valid reason for granting an abatement. The overall budget for the Town is determined by Town Meeting. The Board of Assessors only determine the assessed valuations, which are the basis for apportioning the tax burden equitably.

Payment of Taxes

An abatement application does not stay the collection of your taxes. To avoid loss of appeal rights or addition of interest and other collection charges, the tax should be paid as assessed.

Information Requests

The Board of Assessors is authorized by law to request information that is necessary to properly determine the fair cash value of the property. Failure to respond to an information request will result in the denial of the application and may bar an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board

Action by the Board of Assessors

The Board of Assessors has three months from the date of filing to act on all abatement applications

Information to Include with an Abatement Application

If an application is being filed because the taxpayer feels that their property is overvalued additional information should be included. The applicant’s opinion of value should be stated on the application. Supporting information does not have to be filed with an abatement application. Should you choose include supporting information, an example of what you could include is a list of sale prices of comparable properties, including but not limited to, details of your property and the comparable properties including price, date of sale, lot size, house size, house style, year built, condition factors, neighborhood factors etc. Sales reports can be found in the Assessors' Office.

Errors

Review your property record card. If there are errors contact the Assessors' office and an appointment will be set up for an interior inspection. It is very important that the information on the property record card is accurate.

Appeal of the Assessors' Decision

A taxpayer dissatisfied by the assessors' action or failure to act on an abatement application may appeal to the Appellate Tax Board (ATB). The ATB is a state administrative board that hears taxpayer appeals on local and state tax matters.

A taxpayer must file an appeal with the ATB within three months of the date the assessors granted or denied the abatement or the date the application was deemed denied if they did not act. The ATB cannot hear an appeal if it is not filed on time.


CLASSIFIED LAND - CHAPTERS 61, 61A, 61B

Current use programs - Chapters 61 for forestlands, 61A for agricultural land, and 61B for recreational land - give preferential tax treatment to landowners who maintain their property as open space for timber production, agriculture, or recreation. Applications are available in the Assessors' Office or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / classified land applications)

Chapter 61 - Forestry

Applies to land growing forest products, including wood, timber, Christmas trees, and other products produced by forest vegetation. Landowners receive a property tax reduction in exchange for a commitment to keep their land undeveloped and to manage it for forest products. Ch. 61 is a good fit for landowners interested in actively managing their forestland.

The Ch. 61 program requires a minimum of 10 acres in active forest management. Some or all of a landowner’s eligible land may be placed in the program. The landowner needs to exclude their residence, other structures, and any land used in connection with those buildings. The structures and excluded land continue to be taxed at the full assessment. Under current regulations, the minimum house lot size under the community’s zoning is excluded if there is a house on the land.

The part(s) of the landowner’s property that is excluded from enrollment in the program must be clearly shown on the property map of the forest management plan and described using metes and bounds. A registered survey is not required.

In addition to meeting the minimum acreage requirement, land enrolled in the Ch. 61 program must be managed under a 10-year forest management plan approved by a state service
forester. Some forestland that is not being managed for forest products may also be enrolled (typically no more than 25% of the total enrolled parcel). This “accessory land” may include uses such as forested wetlands, power lines, and open/shrub land managed for wildlife habitat, so long as such uses are deemed by the state service forester to be compatible with forest production. It may not include buildings, lawn, septic fields, or driveways that cannot be used for forest management.

Chapter 61A - Agriculture

is for land growing agricultural or horticultural products, including fruits, vegetables, ornamental shrubs, timber, animals, and maple syrup. Ch. 61A is a good fit for landowners engaged in agriculture on their land.

The Ch. 61A program requires a minimum of 5 acres that has been in agricultural use for at least 2 years before applying. Some or all of a landowner’s eligible land may be placed in the program. The landowner needs to exclude their residence, other structures, and any land occupied by a dwelling or regularly used for family living. The structures and excluded land continue to be taxed at the full assessment. Land under farm buildings, such as barns and farm sheds, is considered land in agricultural use.

Forest products are considered a type of agricultural product, so a landowner may enroll managed forestland in Ch. 61A. A 10-year forest management plan is required for this productive forestland.

An equal amount of contiguous, nonproductive land may also qualify for enrollment in the program as “accessory land.” In other words, enrolled land may contain up to 50% nonagricultural land that is not in residential, industrial, or commercial use. Accessory land may include unmanaged, or “nonproductive,” forestland, which does not require a 10-year forest management plan. However, if the landowner decides to implement forest management, their forestland is automatically considered “productive” and an approved 10-year forest management plan must guide the management.

In addition to meeting the minimum acreage requirement, the landowner must demonstrate annual agricultural product sales of at least $500 for the first 5 acres and $5 for every additional productive agricultural acre or $0.50 for every additional productive forestland acre. Given the longer growth time for forest products, these sales requirements are considered satisfied as long as the enrolled forestland is managed according to an approved 10-year forest management plan.

Chapter 61B - Recreational

is for land in open space and/or recreation. Because there is no requirement for land enrolled in Ch. 61B to be managed or have a 10-year forest management plan, the Ch. 61B
program is a good fit for landowners who take a passive approach to their land.

The Ch. 61B program requires a minimum of 5 acres in an eligible land use. Some or all of a landowner’s eligible land may be placed in the program. The landowner needs to exclude their residence, other structures, and any land used in connection with those buildings. The structures and excluded land continue to be taxed at the full assessment.

In addition to meeting the minimum acreage requirement, land enrolled in Ch. 61B must fit into one of the following two land categories: Open Space - Land maintained in a substantially natural, wild, or open condition; land maintained in a landscaped or pasture condition; or managed forest under an approved 10-year forest management plan. Public
access is not required for this category of land use, and Recreation - Land that is available for recreational purposes—so long as they do not significantly interfere with the environmental benefits of the land—which include hiking, camping, nature study and observation, boating, golfing, noncommercial youth soccer, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, skiing, swimming, picnicking, private noncommercial flying, hang gliding, archery and target shooting, and commercial horseback riding and equine boarding. It may not be used for horse racing, dog racing, or any sport normally undertaken in a stadium, gymnasium, or similar structure. Land under this category must be open either to the public or to members of a nonprofit organization, though the landowner may charge a fee for this service.


LOCAL PROPERTY TAX DEFERRALS

Under Clause 41A, seniors may be able to delay payment of their property taxes. A property tax deferral does not discharge the tax obligation like an exemption. Instead, it defers payment until the senior sells the property or passes away. A deferral allows seniors to use resources that would go to pay taxes to defray living expenses instead. Taxpayers who qualify for personal exemptions under other clauses in M.G.L. c. 59, § 5 (for example, for seniors, disabled veterans, blind persons or surviving spouses) may defer all or part of the balance of their reduced taxes.

If you qualify, you must enter into a written tax deferral and recovery agreement with the local assessors. The assessors will record a statement at the Registry of Deeds to continue the lien that exists on your property by law to secure payment of the deferred taxes. Joint owners, remaindermen and mortgagees must give prior written approval.

You must file an application for each fiscal year with assessors in the city or town where your the property is located application is due on April 1, or three months after the actual tax bills are mailed, whichever is later. Filing on time is required. By law, the assessors may not waive this filing deadline, nor act on a late application, for any reason. Filing an application does not entitle you to delay your tax payment. Applications are available in the Assessors' Office or may be downloaded here (see additional pages / tax deferral applications.)

You must provide the assessors with whatever information is reasonably required to establish eligibility. This information may include, but is not limited to: 1. Birth certificates. 2. Evidence of ownership, domicile and occupancy. 3. Income tax returns.

You must satisfy tests relating to age, domicile, ownership, occupancy and annual income. You must meet all eligibility requirements as of July 1 of the tax year. (The fiscal year of cities and towns begins July 1 and ends the following June 30.) If you do not meet all requirements as of July 1, you cannot defer all or any portion of your taxes for that tax year.

You must be 65 or older.

You must have had a domicile in Massachusetts for at least 10 consecutive years before the tax year begins. You must also be domiciled in the property. Your domicile is where your principal and legal home is located, your family, social, civic and economic life is centered and you plan to return whenever you are away. You may have more than one residence, but only one domicile.

You must have owned and occupied the property, or other real property in Massachusetts, as a domicile for at least 5 years. The years do not have to be consecutive or at the same location. 1) You may own the property solely, as a joint owner or as a tenant in common. 2) If you hold a life estate in the domicile, you are the owner. 3) If your domicile is held in a trust, you are the owner only if you are a trustee or co-trustee of that trust, and you have a sufficient beneficial interest in the domicile.

Your income (gross receipts) for the previous calendar year cannot exceed $20,000. If you are married, the combined gross receipts of you and your spouse cannot exceed $20,000. The gross receipts limit may be increased up to the income limit allowed for the “circuit breaker” state income tax credit for single non-head of household filers, by vote of the legislative body of your city or town. Gross receipts means income from all sources and is broader than taxable income for federal or state income tax purposes. Ordinary business expenses and losses are deducted but not personal or family expenses.

You may defer payment of all or a part of the taxes owed each year so long as (1) you continue to qualify, and (2) the cumulative deferred taxes and accrued interest are not more than 50% of your proportional ownership share of the fair cash value of the property. For example, if you are a joint owner with one other person, the total amount deferred cannot be more than 25% of the property’s value. If you own the property with someone who is not your spouse, the amount you may defer annually is also limited to your proportional ownership share of the year’s tax. Interest on deferred taxes accrues at 8%, or a lower rate voted by the legislative body of your city or town before July 1 of the tax year.

Your surviving spouse who qualifies may continue to defer taxes but must enter into a new deferral and recovery agreement. Surviving spouses who inherit a property must have occupied it, or other real property in Massachusetts, as a domicile for at least 5 years. Any additional taxes plus interest deferred by your surviving spouse, plus the amounts previously deferred and unpaid, cannot be more than 50% of the spouse's proportional ownership share of the fair cash value of the property.

The payment of deferred taxes and accrued interest is due when the property is sold or you pass away, unless your surviving spouse continues to defer. As of that date, the interest rate goes up to 16%. If 6 months later, the deferred amount has not been paid, the treasurer may petition the Land Court to foreclose the lien on the property.

The Appellate Tax Board (ATB) is an independent, quasi-judicial state board that hears taxpayer appeals from local assessors’ decisions on property tax abatements and exemptions. If county government has not been abolished, appeals may be made to the county commissioners instead, but assessors may and usually do transfer those appeals to the ATB. ATB decisions may be appealed to the Appeals Court and, ultimately, to the Supreme Judicial Court. You can obtain the ATB’s guide to the property tax appeal process from its website (www.mass.gov/atb) or by calling 617-727-3100.

You have three months from the date of the assessors’ decision on your deferral application to appeal to the ATB. This includes decisions to deny a deferral or to grant a deferral of a lesser benefit. If the application was deemed denied, your appeal must be filed within three months of the deemed denied date. As a general rule, if the real estate tax on your domicile is over $5,000, you must also have paid all preliminary and actual tax installments on time for the ATB to hear your appeal. The assessors may grant the deferral or higher deferral in final settlement of your application during the three month period for filing an appeal. In that case, you do not have to have filed an appeal with the ATB. However, if a settlement is not reached and a deferral not granted during that period, you must have filed your appeal by the deadline. If not, the ATB cannot hear the appeal.

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