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Betterments and your tax bill

When the City makes a public improvement — like upgrading a sidewalk or sewer — property owners in the area may be assessed a special property tax.


The Public Works Department completes betterment projects in the City. They are also known as public improvements. If the City constructs or upgrades a sidewalk, street, or sewer, it’s considered a betterment. Repaving or replacing a sidewalk, street, or sewer, is NOT considered a betterment.

Each property owner that benefits from the betterment pays for a share of the project. You can pay your bill up front or spread it out over a period of up to 20 years.


By law, the City may assess a special property tax to owners who benefit from public improvements. For the most part, we only tax properties that are next to the project.

The City splits the cost of part or all of the betterment project among the property owners. A lien is filed on each property for the amount with the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.


If you pay your bill within 30 days, we won’t penalize you. You can mail payments by check or money order made payable to the City of Boston:

  • City of Boston
  • Office of the Collector-Treasurer
  • P.O. Box 9711
  • Boston, MA 02114

You have up to six months to petition the Public Improvements Commission for a reduction in the tax. This is called an abatement. Learn more about abatements, and how to pay your property taxes.


After 30 days, we will charge you interest on your unpaid balance at a rate of seven percent per year. At the start of the next fiscal year, we add the unpaid balance to your third quarter property tax bill, which is sent January 1.

We spread the cost of the special assessment, plus interest, over a ten-year period. You can spread the cost of the special assessment over a longer period of time.

Contact the Assessing Department before November 1 to make the change before it’s added to your third quarter bill.

Still have questions? Contact:
Tax Collection
1 City Hall Square
Window M-30
Boston, MA 02201-2004
Need to know

For more information on abatements or how the City determined your tax bill, contact the Public Improvement Commission at 617-635-4960.

For all other questions, contact the Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center online, or call 617-635-4287.