Property Tax Abatements
Commonly Asked Tax Abatement Questions
(Q) What is the 2013 CHANGE IN LAW that addresses property tax abatements when a building is damaged by fire and/or natural disaster?
(A) RSA 76:21- http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/V/76/76-21.htm
(Q) What do I do if my building is damaged by fire/natural disaster? Can I receive a property tax abatement?
(A) It is possible to receive a property tax abatement, actually a proration of property taxes, if a building is damaged during the property tax year (April 1- March 31). An owner has to apply within 60 days of the fire/natural disaster event. The (draft) proration form, and additional information, is found by clicking on the following: Prorated Assessment for Damaged Buildings
(Q) How do I apply to my municipality for an abatement?
(A) You must apply in writing to the municipality (RSA 76:16), AFTER the final tax bill for 2016 is issued (early November 2016 +/-) and by March 1, 2017, on the abatement application form on this website. An original abatement application is required, in accordance with state laws/rules/case law; photocopies, faxed copies, and emailed applications are not accepted. The abatement application must have the original signature of the applicant.
(Q) Who has the burden of proof, by state law, in an abatement application?
(A) The taxpayer has the burden of proof, requiring the taxpayer to prove the assessment resulted in the taxpayer paying an unfair, illegal or disproportionate share of taxes. The taxpayer must show why the assessment resulted in him/her paying a disproportionate share of taxes. Taxpayers should: 1) have photographs of the property (exterior and representative of the interior); 2) have an opinion of what they think the property was worth on April 1st of the appealed year; 3) be prepared to explain the opinion of the property’s value, e.g., comparable sales, appraisals; and 4) document other issues, e.g. errors on the assessment-record card.
(Q) Do I need to provide an appraisal, done by a certified/licensed appraiser, for the purposes of the abatement application?
(A) Not necessarily. However, it certainly is helpful and, in some cases, an appraisal is essential. Remember,the taxpayer has the burden of proof in an abatement application, and appraisals can help carry the burden. If you do not obtain an appraisal, you should still be able to estimate the property’s value and to explain the estimate, preferably with arms-length sales (NOT foreclosure sales, distress sales, short sales, etc) of similarly comparable properties. If you have an appraisal, statistical report or comparable arms-length sales, you should include a copy in the abatement application.
(Q) What is the best way to review my property assessment record?
(A) Take the following steps: 1) go to the Town Hall- Assessing Department and obtain your assessment-record card; 2) review the card and discuss any questions with the staff; 3) review your new assessment value; 4) estimate the property’s market value; and 5) compare your value estimate with the 2016 assessment.
The main focus on an abatement application will be on whether your assessment exceeds the property’s market value, by 10% or more, as State of NH assessing standards promulgate that market value is a range of value defined as 90-110% of value.
(Q) Who can file for an abatement with the municipality.
(A) Any person or entity “aggrieved” by reason of paying the tax. Generally, this is the property owner but can be others. Your right to apply and appeal for an abatement are not lost because you sold or bought during the applicable tax year. However, you must be an aggrieved party and meet all timely filing requirements.
(Q) Should I pay my taxes while my appeal is pending?
(A) Yes. Filing with your municipality and appealing to the board or the superior court does not relieve the taxpayer’s obligation to pay the taxes owed. The municipality has, per state law as promulgated by the State Legislature, the right to charge you interest on unpaid taxes (even if an abatement is granted), to place a lien on your property, and take other collection steps while your application and appeal are pending. If an abatement is approved by the Town’s assessing authority, the Board of Selectmen, and taxes have been paid, the abated taxes will be refunded to you with 6% interest back to the date that the final property tax bill was fully paid.