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Real Estate Tax
Municipalities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts raise operating funds primarily through taxation.  In Salem, the property tax accounts for approximately 50% of the city’s income.

The City of Salem has implemented a quarterly tax payment cycle.  Bills are due and payable on August 1st, November 1st, February 1st and May 1st.  Under this system, property taxes for the first two payments are estimated, each based on one-quarter of the net taxes assessed for the prior year plus 2%.  The bill for the third quarter is the actual bill, complete with the property assessment, tax rate and total tax for the year.  The amounts due for the third and last quarter are equal amounts.  This is based upon the actual year’s tax, less the amount paid on the first two preliminary tax notices, divided into two equal amounts.

Property tax bills are sent by the Assessor’s Office to all owners of record as of January 1st prior to the start of the fiscal year.  Massachusetts General Law Chapter 60, Section 3 states than failure to receive a tax bill does not relieve one from the obligation of paying property tax, plus any interest and/or penalties which may accrue on the unpaid bill.  Massachusetts law mandates that payments received after the due date are subject to interest from the day after the due date to the date when payment is made.  The current rate is 14% per annum.  Timely payments are those, which are received in the Collector’s Office or the lock box by closing time on the due date.  Property owners are advised to contact the Collector’s Office if they have not received a bill within two or three weeks of the due date.  Payments made by mail that are received after the due date bearing earlier postmarks do not qualify as being timely.

Persons who have purchased property in the city should notify the Assessor’s Office in writing of their status as new owner and request that the bill be mailed to them at the appropriate address.  

Questions concerning assessed owners, assessments and mailing addresses should be directed to the Assessor’s Office.