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

phone icon(508) 994-1500
divider

Archive


Massachusetts SJC Affirms Split Tax Rate for Personal Property

/ 0 Comments

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has affirmed the Decision of the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board that using a split rate – one rate for residential property and another rate for commercial, industrial & personal property, does not violate the Massachusetts Constitution’s requirement that all tax assessments be “proportional and reasonable”. The decision in Verizon New England, Inc. vs. Board of Assessors of Boston, SJC-12034 (November 2, 2016) has been highly anticipated by municipalities across the Commonwealth. Verizon argued that Article 112 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution had only authorized split tax rates for real property, but had not applied to personal property and that using a spilt tax rate for personal property resulted in a disproportionate assessment. The Board of Assessors of Boston had argued that based on Article 112, General Laws Chapter 40, Section 56, and an Opinion of the Justices from 1979, it was permissible to use the split tax rate for personal property. The full decision can be found at www.mass.gov/courts/docs/sjc/reporter-of-decisions/new-opinions/12034.pdf .

 

Read More
separator

ATB Issues Findings of Fact & Report in Swansea Solar Personal Property Tax Case

/ 0 Comments

On October 13, 2016, the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board (ATB) issued its Findings of Fact & Report in KTT,LLC v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Swansea, Docket# F-322736. The ATB had originally issued the Decision in this matter back on June 1, 2015. The ATB’s Decision and Findings in KTT are a logical extension of the ATB’s Decision in Forrestall Enterprises, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of Westborough (December 4, 2014).

As a result of these two decisions, it is now clear that solar panels, racking and related equipment that comprise a solar farm which sells the energy back through the grid and has entered net metering agreements to offset the electricity bills of properties which are taxable under Chapter 59 of the Massachusetts General Laws, are exempt from taxation as personal property. In making its decision, the ATB stated that there “is nothing ambiguous in the language of Clause Forty-Fifth and the plain meaning of its words requires only that the subject property be:

  1. a solar or wind powered system or device;
  2. utilized as a primary or auxiliary powered system for the purpose of heating or otherwise supplying energy; and
  3. utilized to supply the energy needs of property that is subject to Massachusetts property tax.

The ATB continued stating if “the Legislature had meant to limit the scope of Clause Forty-Fifth to exempt only solar arrays which supply the energy needs of properties owned by the same taxpayer, it could easily have done so.”

In an ironic twist, the result of the ATB’s Decision is that now the only solar farms that are taxable as personal property are those which enter net metering credit agreements with municipalities or non-profits since the property owned by these entities is not taxable.

Municipalities across Massachusetts which have taxed solar farms as personal property should review the net metering agreements to determine who is purchasing the net metering credits. Since municipalities are now setting their tax rates, they should also adjust their Overlay Accounts accordingly in anticipation of the spate of abatement applications that will most likely follow in February.

The Massachusetts Legislature had the opportunity to address the issue of personal property taxation of solar panels, but HB 2483, which had broad support, failed to pass before the end of the Formal Session.

It appears that the Town of Swansea is considering appealing the ATB’s Findings of Fact and Report to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

 

 

Read More
separator

Massachusetts Municipal Modernization Act – An Overview

/ 0 Comments

Matt Thomas would like to thank all of the Officials and Department Heads from the City of Fall River who attended this morning’s presentation entitled “The Massachusetts Municipal Modernization Act – An Overview”. A PDF of the PowerPoint Presentation can be found on our Resources Page.

Read More
separator

Memorial Day 2016

/ 0 Comments

Our Office will be closed on Monday, May 30, 2016 in observance of Memorial Day. Please take a moment this weekend to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who gave their life in defense of our country.

Read More
separator

Plymouth County Collectors, Treasurers & Assessors Associations Joint Meeting

/ 0 Comments

Matt Thomas would like to thank the members of the Plymouth County Collectors & Treasurer’s Association and the Plymouth County Assessors Association for their hospitality at their joint meeting today, May 11, 2016, at Middleborough Town Hall. Matt presented “Don’t Drop the Baton: Successfully Collecting Taxes Takes a Team Effort”. A copy of the presentation is available on under the Resources tab.

Read More
separator

MAAO Winter Meeting

/ 0 Comments

Matt Thomas would like to thank the members of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers for their hospitality at the Winter Meeting on February 24, 2016 at Lombardo’s in Randolph, Massachusetts. Matt participated as panelist on a panel entitled “Solar Power,  Valuation & Pilot Negotiations – Recent ATB Decisions” with Mattapoisett Principal Assessor, Kathleen Costello, Shrewsbury Principal Assessor Christopher Reidy, and Atty. Ken Gurge. R. Lane Partridge, Town Assessor for the Town of Concord served as Moderator for the session.

Read More
separator

Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers – Winter Meeting

/ 0 Comments

Matt Thomas will be a panelist at the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers’ Winter Meeting on February 24, 2016 at Lombardo’s in Randolph, Massachusetts. Matt will be participating with Mattapoisett Principal Assessor, Kathleen Costello, MAA and several other individuals on a panel entitled “Solar Power,  Valuation & Pilot Negotiations – Recent ATB Decisions”. Matt has negotiated Solar Power PILOTs for the City of Fall River and the Town of Mattapoisett.

Read More
separator

Happy New Year !!

/ 0 Comments

We’d like to thank all our clients for the opportunity to provide legal services during the past year and wish you and yours a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Read More
separator

Launch of Web Site

/ 0 Comments

Matthew J. Thomas, Esq. is proud to announce the release of our newly developed web site.

We’re excited to bring you the latest updates, news, legal information, and other resources. This site will soon have more resources, legal tips, and documents. Please check back often and if you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you.

Read More
separator