4 Park Pl., Suite 101
New Bedford, MA 02740

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Happy Holidays 2021

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While there have been bright sports of “normalcy” during the past year, it seems that once again we are all dealing with challenges as we try to gather with our family and friends.  In spite of the uneasiness, weariness, and concern we may all be feeling, we’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday and hope you all have a Healthy & Prosperous New Year.

We’d like to thank our established clients for giving us the continued opportunity to provide legal services during this past year. We’d also like to thank our new clients for giving us the new opportunity to provide legal services.

Our office will be closed from Thursday, December 23, 2021 through Monday, January 3, 2022.

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Matt Presents at Bristol County Assessors Association Annual Meeting

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On Friday, December 11, 2021, Matt presented “A Holiday Bagful of Goodies – A Year End Topical Review” to members of the Bristol County Assessors Association at their Annual Meeting held Whites of Westport. During the presentation, Matt reviewed the changes to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause Forty-Fifth that will become effective on January 1, 2022. Matt also provided an update on the ongoing Eversource ATB Matters and Eversource’s ongoing challenges regarding the assessment of its Class 504 personal property. Finally, Matt discussed the recent decision of the Land Court in Holyoke v. Tosado, 20 TL 000040 and strategies Assessors Offices can implement to protect the validity of Tax Takings.

Matt would like to thank all of the attendees for their hospitality. Special thanks as well to BCAA President Lydia Cordeiro, the BCAA Officers, and the BCAA Executive Board.

For a copy of “A Holiday Bagful of Goodies – A Year End Topical Review” please visit the “Resources” section of our website.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

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We’d like to thank all of our clients for giving us the opportunity to provide legal services to them during the past year, and for their cooperation, collaboration and understanding, as we all continue to learn to navigate these challenging times.

We’d also like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Our office will be closed on Thursday, November 25, 2021 and Friday, November 26, 2021.

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Veterans Day 2021

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Our Office will be closed today in observance of Veterans Day. Although Veterans Day was originally conceived as an opportunity to remember the Armistice that ended World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it has become an opportunity to remember and honor the sacrifice of all Veterans who have served our country. We honor their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

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Matt Presents at 2021 MAAO Fall Conference

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On Wednesday, September 23, 2021,  Matt presented “Assessing Affordable Housing Properties”  to members of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers at the 2021 MAAO Fall Conference held at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center.   During the presentation, Matt reviewed the challenges that Assessors face in assessing properties that are subject to affordable housing restrictions or that have been developed with affordable housing financing. Matt also offered some suggestions and strategies to assist Assessors understand the “unique status” of these properties, and more accurately analyze their fair cash value for assessment purposes.

Following the presentation, Matt and Mattapoisett Assessors Kathleen Costello led the attendees through an open forum discussion of various assessing issues entitled “Let’s Chat”.

Matt would like to thank all of the attendees who participated in person or virtually, and for their excellent questions. Special thanks as well to MAAO President Melissa Couture Rimbold, Education Committee Chair, Ellen Brideau, and Executive Director, Mike Flynn.

For a copy of  “Assessing Affordable Housing Properties” please visit the “Resources” section of our website.

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Labor Day 2021

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Monday, September 6, 2021 is Labor Day.  As you know, Labor Day is an opportunity for us to honor the social and economic achievements of the American workforce. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday of September a national holiday. In observance of Labor Day, our office will be closed and will reopen on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

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2021 MAAO Virtual Summer Conference Draws Over 125 Attendees

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On Tuesday, June 22, 2021,  Matt presented “Abatements, ATB Appeals, & Overlays – Common Sense Strategies to Save Your Overlay Dollars” to members of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers at the 2021 MAAO Virtual Summer Conference.  During the presentation, Matt reviewed the basics of the Abatement Process and Overlay Accounts, as well as strategies and best practices to facilitate the fair and equitable assessment of property while positioning the municipality for a strong defense before the Appellate Tax Board. Matt also reviewed scenarios that can inadvertently impact the Overlay and affect future municipal budgets. Matt also reviewed the impact of Zoom Hearings, and the provisions of Chapter 20 of the Acts of 2021 extending the authority for fully remote meetings.

Matt would like to thank all of the attendees for their participation in the virtual conference, and for their excellent questions. Special thanks as well to outgoing MAAO President John Neas, and to Joanne Foley, 2021 Summer Conference Coordinator.

For a copy of the updated version of “Abatements, ATB Appeals, & Overlays – Common Sense Strategies to Save Your Overlay Dollars” please visit the “Resources” section of our website.

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Bristol County Assessors Association Virtual Training Draws 100 Attendees

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On Thursday, April 15, 2021,  Matt presented  an updated version of “It’s Just a Bundle of Sticks…” to the members of the Bristol County Assessors Association, Assessors from other Massachusetts municipalities,  and their Clerks during a two hour Virtual Training.  During the presentation, Matt used the traditional analogy of a bundle of sticks to discuss various property rights, reviewed the various types of tenancies, discussed trusts & nominee trusts, and reviewed the basics of  registered land. Matt and the attendees also reviewed examples of various types of deeds and trusts, and discussed the recent SJC Decision in Guilfoil v. Secretary of Executive Office of HHS,  486 Mass. 788 (2021).

Matt would like to thank all of the attendees for their participation in the virtual training, and for their excellent questions. Special thanks as well to BCAA President Lydia Cordeiro, and BCAA Education Director Richard Conti for organizing the virtual training.

For a copy of the updated version of “It’s Just a Bundle of Sticks…” please visit the “Resources” section of our website.

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City of Fall River Reaches Tax Title Collection Milestone

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For the past ten years, Matt Thomas has been providing legal services to the City of Fall River regarding the collection of outstanding real estate taxes, and during this period of time, Matt has been the principal draftsman of a number of best practices adopted by the City’s Department of Financial Services. As a result of the implementation of these best practices, the City has collected over $20 Million in past due Tax Titles and over $6 Million in Treasurer’s Interest, while only foreclosing on 30 properties. During the past ten years, Matt has had the opportunity to work with three former Fall River City Treasurers, Ed Iacaponi, John Nunes, and Paulianne Martins Teixeira, and the current City Treasurer, Ian Schachne. Matt has also had the continued opportunity to work with Fall River CFO Mary Sahady and Asst. Treasurer, Diane Perry, as well as the staff of the Fall River Treasurer’s Office. Matt would like to thank them all for their cooperation and collaboration.

One of the most essential, yet difficult, responsibilities of a city or town is to collect the real estate taxes that are owed to it. The process is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 60. Recently, in the case of Tallege Lincoln, LLC v. Williams, 485 Mass. 449 (2020), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reaffirmed that the principal purpose of Chapter 60 is to ensure that a municipality will receive the real estate taxes owed to it, but recognized that Chapter 60 was designed to also protect due process and the interests of taxpayers. Some communities seek to maximize the collection of real estate taxes by assigning the perfected real estate tax liens known as Tax Titles to the private sector. However, as the SJC noted, when a municipality does so, it relinquishes its ability to work with the taxpayer, and such assignees have no obligation to act in the best interests of the community. The Tax Title collection practices of the City of Fall River over the past ten years have shown that it is possible to effectively collect outstanding real estate taxes while working with taxpayers to protect their ownership interest in their homes and businesses. Matt is proud to have the continued opportunity to be part of this effort.

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Mattapoisett’s New Solar PILOT Law

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On January 13, 2021, Chapter 357 of the Acts of 2020 was signed by Governor Charlie Baker. Chapter 357, a Home Rule Petition filed by the Town of Mattapoisett, clarifies the ambiguities, and addresses the inequities, surrounding the taxation of solar facilities that had previously existed due to decisions of the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board.  Chapter 357 is based on the Mattapoisett’s current practice and policy regarding the taxation of solar facilities. Pursuant to Chapter 357, a solar facility that provides no more than 125% of the energy needed for lighting and heating the property on which it is located will continue to be exempt from personal property taxes. However, solar facilities that are not primarily producing energy for the parcel on which they are located, but rather are developed to sell power to other electric consumers through the grid will be subject to personal property taxes. A solar facility that is subject to personal property taxation may execute a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) with the Town rather than be subject to annual taxation. A PILOT must be approved by the Board of Assessors, Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting.

Matt was the primary draftsman of Chapter 357. He would like to congratulate the Town on the passage of this important legislation. In light of the inability to enact statewide legislation to address these issues, the passage of Chapter 357 is a testament to the leadership of the Board of Selectmen and Board of Assessors of the Town, and the abilities of the Town’s legislative delegation. Matt would also like to thank Mattapoisett Principal Assessor Kathy Costello, Town Administrator Michael Lorenco, and former Town Administrator Michael Gagne for their collaboration in the advocacy of Chapter 357.

For a summary and the text of Chapter 357, please follow the following link: Chapter 357 of the Acts of 2020 – Annotated.

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