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City of Fall River Reaches Tax Title Collection Milestone


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.