Back to top

What is the tax title process?

What is the tax title process?

We can't offer legal services to the general public. But, we've created an overview of how the tax title process works and where you can find help.

HOW WE DETERMINE YOUR TAXES

The City’s Assessing Department finds properties and their owners through the Registry of Deeds. The name on a tax bill is the property owner on January 1 before the start of the fiscal year. Assessing sends owner information to the Collector-Treasurer.

The Fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. The City uses a quarterly tax billing system, meaning we mail your taxes four times a year:

First quarter second quarter third quarter fourth quarter
July 1 October 1 January 1 April 1

We send tax bills 30 days before their due date. Your quarterly tax bills are due on these dates:

First quarter bills second quarter bills third quarter bills fourth quarter bills
August 1 November 1 February 1 May 1

If the first of the month falls on a weekend, your bill is due on the following Monday.

STAYING UP TO DATE

You are responsible for keeping your information up to date with the City. You have to pay your property taxes even if you don't get the bill. You can’t negotiate tax bills. You can find out how much you owe by calling the Collector-Treasurer's Office at 617-635-4131.

You have 30 days to pay the bill. If you don't pay your bill in time, it will gain interest at a rate of 14 percent each year. We certify any unpaid taxes at the end of the Fiscal year to the tax title account, and increase the interest to 16 percent.

Learn more about problems with real estate tax bills, and how to pay your property taxes.

TAX TAKING AND FORECLOSURES

After we certify your unpaid taxes to the tax title account, the Collector-Treasurer:

  • issues a tax lien, which is a claim of legal ownership on your property, and
  • records the lien within 60 days at the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.

If you don't pay your taxes within six months of the due date, the City will start the foreclosure process. We file a petition to foreclose with the Land Court. We’ll do a title exam and send a notice of foreclosure to anyone who has an ownership interest in the property.

RESPONDING TO THE NOTICE

You have until the deadline on the notice to respond with an “Answer in Land Court.” If you don’t answer the notice, you waive your right to fight the foreclosure. The Land Court may be able to foreclose on your home without a hearing.

If you do answer the notice, you'll be able to go to court and work out a payment plan for your taxes. The court will give you a deadline to pay off your taxes in full. The cost includes any expenses the City took on to foreclose and take care of your property.

If you fail to make your payments on time, we will ask for another hearing to find a judgment of foreclosure in your case. If the court rules in favor of the City, we will take ownership of your property.

Still have questions? Contact:
Law
617-635-4034
1 City Hall Square
Room 615
Boston, MA 02201
United States

Resources for Help

Land Court
Toggle

Land Court
3 Pemberton Square
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

You can get in touch with them if you get a foreclosure citation and need to file an Answer in the Land Court.

Neighborhood Development
Toggle

Neighborhood Development

Clearinghouse (to buy property): 617-635-4191
Foreclosure hotline:
617-635-4663

The department takes care of and transfers foreclosed properties. They may be able to help you avoid foreclosure.

Elderly Commission
Toggle

Elderly Commission
Phone: 617-635-4366
Teletype: 617-635-4399

The commission helps eligible homeowners prevent foreclosure. They may be able to help you set up a payment plan.

Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center (TRAC)
Toggle

You can request a copy of your tax bill, or see if you qualify for a property tax exemption.

Lawyer referral services
Toggle

Need legal help with a Tax Title issue? These groups offer advice.

State Bar Association
Phone: 866-627-7577 or 617-654-0400

Boston Bar Association
617-742-0625

Dial-a-Lawyer
Call on the first Wednesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
617-338-0610

Real Estate Bar Association
617-854-7555