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How we tax your property

Property taxes are a major source of revenue for cities and towns in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, the estimated value of a property is called an assessment. The property tax is based on the value of the property. This is sometimes called “ad valorem,” a Latin term that means “to the value.”


The City of Boston operates under a property tax classification system. This allows us to charge different rates for residential and commercial property.

The tax rate is the amount a taxpayer owes for each one thousand dollars of property value in a given year. The tax rate for a given fiscal year appears on your third quarter tax bill, which is typically issued in late December.

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  • Need to know

    Still have questions? Call the Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center at 617-635-4287.

Fiscal year tax rate

The fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. Property taxes are billed on a quarterly basis. The first and second quarter tax bills are estimates based on the prior year’s property value and tax rate.

The current year tax rate appears on your third quarter tax bill.

2023 Tax Rate (per thousand dollars value)
Type Amount
Residential $10.74
Commercial, industrial, personal property $24.68

Tax Rate History

What is Proposition 2½?

Massachusetts voters passed the ballot initiative in 1980. The law limits the amount of property taxes a city or town can raise in two ways:

  1. The amount raised in property taxes can never be more than 2½ percent of the full cash value of all taxable property in a city or town. This is called the 2½ levy ceiling.
  2. The amount raised in property taxes can’t jump more than 2½ percent from year to year. There are exceptions for new growth, or if voters OK overrides and exclusions. This is called the 2½ levy limit.

Proposition 2½ does not limit the year to year growth in individual tax assessments.

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