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Massachusetts SJC Affirms Split Tax Rate for Personal Property


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 .