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Town of Falmouth, Maine
271 Falmouth Road
Falmouth, ME 04105
town@town.falmouth.me.us
(207) 781-5253

 
Frequently Asked Questions


Who Appoints The Town Tax Assessor?
According to the Town's Charter, the Assessor is appointed by the Town Council.  The Assessor's duties and responsibilities are governed by State law primarily Title 36 MRSA.


What Are The Assessor's Qualifications?
According to State property tax laws, the Assessor must be a Certified Maine Assessor (CMA).  To achieve this certification, the
Assessor must pass a written exam and annually complete 16 hours of continuing education.


What Are The Assessor's Duties and Responsibilities?
The Assessor acts as the town's appraiser and must determine the market value of all property for the collection of  property taxes.

The Maine Constitution requires that “All taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof .” Me. Const. art. IX, Sec. 8.

Title 36 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (MRSA) § 326-331 describe the State's assessing standards and requires a minimum assessment-to-market value ratio of 70% and a maximum of 110% rating of assessment quality (COD) of 20 and an assessment quality (COD) of less than 20.  


What Is Market Value?
Market value is an estimate of what a property would sell between a willing buyer and willing seller when the property has been exposed to the open market for a reasonable length of time and all possible permitted uses are known.


What Is The Difference Between Assessed Value and Market Value?
If both values are estimated at the same time by the same person, there would be very little difference.  Both values are someone's opinion based on other comparable sales information.

The Assessor compares your property to all other similar properties that sold in Falmouth during an 18 to 24 month period. A valuation model is created from the sales analysis. The values and guidelines derived from the valuation model are then applied in an equitable manner to all the properties that did not sell during this period.

For example, for the 2008 revaluation (when all properties were updated to current market conditions), properties sold between January 2006 through October 2007 were analyzed to create the valuation model.
 
A fee appraiser compares your property to three or four other similar properties that sold within six months or so. Adjustments are made to each comparable property to make it similar to your property. Then the most similar property is chosen as the best comparable to your property.


What Causes My Property's Market Value To Change?
Any fluctuation in the real estate market affects your property's market value. If interest rates increase, your property's market value decreases. If the supply of homes for sale in Falmouth decreases, your property's value increases. In other words, you do not have to make any physical changes to your property in order to change its value. Outside influences affect its value as well as changes in your neighborhood.


What Causes My Assessment To Change?
There are several reasons why your property's assessed value could change:
• A revaluation that would reflect current market conditions.
• Improvements made to the property.
• Any change in data discovered through inspection.


Why Does The Assessor Need To Inspect My Property?
In order to accurately determine the market value of your property, the information used to calculate your assessed value must be accurate.  The interior layout, quality of materials and quantity of features affects the market value of your property.  If the data is incorrect, the assessed value will not be accurate.


Must I Let The Assessor Inspect My Property?
No; according to State Taxation law, you are not legally obligated to let the Assessor inspect your property. However, the law does allow the Assessor to estimate the property's assessed value and if the Assessor must estimate, you lose your right to appeal.


How Do I Appeal My Assessed Value If I Disagree With The Assessor?
According to Maine Taxation law, your property's assessed value is considered reasonable if it falls within 10% of its most probable selling price. The burden to prove the assessment is unreasonable rests with the taxpayer.

1.      Informal Review:   The first step is an informal review. Your opinion must be supported with facts, so visit the Assessor's office or the website to review the data on your property record card, other assessed values in your neighborhood and properties that have recently sold.  Once you have made this preliminary review, make an appointment with the Assessor to discuss your findings. If the Assessor feels no adjustment is required, then:

2.      File abatement application with Assessor:  This application must be filed within 185 days after the Commitment Date (for 2013, the deadline to appeal is March 31, 2014). The Assessor has 60 days from receipt of your application to respond. If this formal appeal is denied, then:  

3.      Appeal Assessor's decision to Board of Assessment Review (BAR): Application to appeal must be filed with Falmouth's BAR within 60 days of the Assessor's denial.

4.      Appeal the Board's decision to Superior Court:  Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the BAR's decision or to the State Board of Assessment Review within 60 days for commercial properties assessed over $1M.


How Is The Tax Rate Calculated?
Revenue required for the budget from the property tax divided by Town Value equals Tax Rate.

$32,294,416 divided by $2,287,140,000 = $.01412 Tax Rate

Tax Rate X Assessed Value = Tax Bill

$.01412 Tax Rate X Individual property assessment ($470,000 for example)
= $6,636.40 Annual Tax Bill

What Is The Difference Between Assessment Year, Fiscal Year And Commitment Date?
Assessment Year: April 1st  (According to State Law Title 36 MRSA §502)

The ownership and condition of all property is fixed as of April 1st each year. The owner of record on April 1st, is responsible for the annual tax bill. The current assessment information available from this office reflects the owners and assessments as of April 1, 2013. Any ownership changes or improvements to the property made after April 1, 2013, will not change the tax bill until September of 2014.

Fiscal Year: July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 (set by Town Council)

The budget, approved by the Town Council on April 22, 2013, covers this period. Even though the tax bills are not mailed until the end of September, the fiscal year began July 1, 2013.

Commitment Date: September 25, 2013 (determined by Assessor).

When the Assessor "commits" the town's assessment rolls to the Tax Collector. The commitment date varies each year. In Falmouth, this date is usually in September.


When Are Taxes Due And What Period Does Each Payment Cover?
2012/13 Tax Due Dates (set by Council):

Real Estate
1st half payment:  11/7/13
2nd half payment:  5/1/14
for period 7/1/13 to 12/31/13
for period 1/1/14 to 6/30/14
Personal Property
Total payment:  12/3/12
for period 7/1/13 to 6/30/14

Why Is The Tax Bill Still In My Name If I Sold My Property?
According to Maine's State Taxation Law, the Assessor is legally required to issue the annual tax bill to the owner of record as of April 1st. This means both fiscal year payments.

For example:
• April 1, 2013, you owned the property.
• June 1, 2013, you sold the property.
• September 25, 2013 the annual tax bill is “committed”.
• November 7, 2013 the first half payment is due.
• May 1, 2014 the second half payment is due.

IMPORTANT: Please discuss the property tax bill at the closing - who is responsible for payment and who you will forward the bill to when you receive it. Neither the Assessor nor Tax Collector are responsible for the pro-ration of taxes between buyer and seller.




 

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