(Title 36, M.R.S.A. Sections 841-850)
Abatements are reductions in one's taxable valuation. They are granted when the Assessor discovers an error in assessment or if the owner points such an error out. If the owner believes that the current value placed on their property is inaccurate, unfair, or overvalued relative to market value, they may take the following steps:
- Review the property record card (available in the Assessor's office) to assure the accuracy of its data
- Check sale prices of similar properties
- Provide evidence to the Assessor that the property is overvalued
- Request a valuation review by the Assessor
- Make a formal abatement request if not satisfied by the Assessor
- Make a formal appeal to the local Board of Assessment Review
The property owner has 185 days from the commitment date (which is usually at or around August 15) to file a formal abatement request.
The Assessor may go back one year in granting an abatement. The Council may go back three years, but only to correct an illegality, error, irregularity in assessment. They may not grant an abatement to correct an error in valuation of property. In making a formal abatement appeal the assessment is presumed valid and the burden is on the taxpayer to show that it is manifestly wrong in relation to just value. (CMP v Town of Moscow, 649 A.2d 320 (ME.1994)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How does the Assessor decide on the value of my property?
A. The Assessor's office gathers data on all properties in town, and compares it to properties that have sold or been leased as a basis of comparison.
Q. Can I come in and have my valuation reviewed?
A. Absolutely. It is best if you call ahead at 657-3112 or email John Brushwein, Assessor to set up an appointment.
Q. Do I have to let the assessor see the interior of my house?
A. No, that is your choice. If the assessor does not see the interior, then an estimate of value will be made.
Q. What can I do to have my taxes reduced?
A. Taxes are proportionate to the value of one's property, so one must take steps to reduce that value in order to bring taxes down.
Q. Why is the first half tax bill in the fall of one year, and the second half in the spring of the next year?
A. This is because the Town's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
Q. Properties should be assessed 'fairly'.
A. The state constitution defines 'fairness' for assessing purposes as being according to the 'just value' (market value) of a property. Gray employs a Certified Maine Assessor to follow this practice and is audited annually by the State of Maine Revenue Services agency to ensure quality control.
Q. How is the tax rate set?
A. The total taxes to be raised for the budget (determined by the Town Council) is divided by the total taxable valuation of the Town (determined by the Tax Assessor) to determine the minimum tax rate. The assessor then sets a rate up to 5% higher than the minimum in order to cover errors, uncollected taxes, etc.