- What is personal property?
Personal property is "tangible" property, which means the property physically exists. Personal property consists of assets, goods, and material objects used in the conduct of a business and is assessed separately from real estate. Tangible property also relates to second homeowners, where the Dennis property is not the owner's primary residence.
The assessment date is January 1 of each year. Any business that existed on that date or second homeowner as of that date is subject to personal property tax and will be billed for the entire fiscal year (July 1st to June 30th). This applies to businesses that have closed or relocated after the assessment date or a home that was sold after January 1. Personal property tax is not prorated per Massachusetts General Law.
- What is Second Home Personal Property and why am I receiving this bill?
As a residential property owner in Dennis where Dennis is not the primary residence (domicile), then a Personal Property tax is issued to whomever the owner of record was on January 1 (always the owner of record on January 1 of the year in which the Fiscal Year begins). Basically, the Personal Property Tax is a tax on the tangible items (household furnishings) within the second home. It is calculated at 1% of the building's assessed value for a house or 1% for a condominium. The Personal Property tax follows the person, not the property; this means, if the property was sold during the year, the owner of record on January 1(the seller) would be responsible for all four quarters of the Personal Property tax in that Fiscal Year.
If on January 1, the home was the permanent residence, a request for abatement can be completed and submitted to the Assessing Office no later than February 1 or the first business day in February. Accompanying that form, the Assessing Office would require domiciliary evidence, such as the owner being on the Dennis Census, motor vehicle(s) excise tax is paid through the Town of Dennis, income tax filings submitted with the Dennis address, etc.
If you were not on the annual Town census as of January 31st and/or did not pay motor vehicle excise tax to the Town of Dennis, you will be responsible for the personal property tax bill.
Response to deceased homeowner and selling property mid-year:
Personal Property follows the owner of record as of January 1 of the year in which the Fiscal Year begins; it does not follow the property. In the case of a deceased homeowner, the estate of the deceased would be held responsible for payment. For additional information, the owner of record on January 1 is legally required to remain on the property record card until the actual bill has been issued. The Assessing Department works on the next Fiscal Year in a preliminary status in the database system. Once the system has been updated to the next Fiscal Year, the next owner of record will appear.
Personal property is "tangible" property. That means the property physically exists. Personal property is assets, goods, and material objects used in the conduct of a business and is assessed separately from real estate.
The assessment date is January 1 of each year. Any business that existed on that date is subject to personal property tax and will be billed for the entire fiscal year. This applies to businesses that have closed or relocated after the assessment date. Personal property tax is not prorated per Massachusetts General Law.
- Who must file a return?
All proprietors, partnerships, associations, trusts, and corporations must file a Form of List by March 1, declaring items as personal property as of January 1 of each calendar year. This is a state requirement.
- Where and when must my return be filed?
A completed Form of List is to be filed with the Dennis Board of Assessors each year before March 1 to determine its fair market value. If the property has no permanent location (e.g. construction equipment), it must be listed with the assessors in the city or town where you are domiciled (legal place of residence).
- Can I get an extension of the filing deadline?
Requests for an extension may be granted if you can show sufficient reason for not filing on-time. The latest date the filing deadline can be extended is 30 days after the tax bills are issues for the fiscal year. Request for extensions must be in writing.
- What is the penalty for failure to file or for filing late?
Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law c. 59, sec 64, if no Form of List was filed for the fiscal year, the Assessor cannot grant an abatement for the overvaluation of personal property for the year. A Form of List is not considered filed unless it is complete and returned to the Assessor's office by the deadline.
If the Form of List is not filed on time, the Assessor can only grant abatement if the taxpayer shows a reasonable excuse for late filing or if the tax assessed is more than 150% of the amount that would have been assessed if the Form of List was filed on-time. In this case, only the amount over 150% of the correct value can be abated.
- What is the return used for and who has access to it?
The Board of Assessors uses the information provided on the Form of List to determine the taxable or exempt status of your personal property as well as its fair market value. The assessors may also require you to provide in writing further information about the property and to permit them to inspect the property. Form of List forms are confidential and not open to public inspection.
- What personal property is taxable?
Learn what summarizes personal property that must be listed on a Form of List. The type of business determines which assets will be taxed locally:
- Individuals (Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships)
- Business furniture and furnishings, i.e. desks, tables, chairs, file cabinets, accessories, etc.
- Business machinery and equipment, i.e. computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers, compressors, power tools, landscaping equipment, ovens, food processing equipment and machinery, examination tables, x-ray equipment, etc.
- Business inventory, the dollar amount of "stock in trade" that the business carries on January 1. This inventory amount is usually included on the federal income tax form.
- Business Corporations
To be considered a corporation, the business must be included in the Massachusetts Domestic and Foreign Corporations Book compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Business corporations are taxable on poles, underground conduits, wires, and pipes. They are also taxable on all machinery used in the conduct of business except:
- Machines that are stock in trade. Example: Inventory for sale or lease such as copy machines from a copy machine distributor would be considered exempt.
- Machines used directly in the dry cleaning or laundering process. Example: A dry cleaning machine owned by a dry cleaner would not be taxable because it is directly involved in the cleaning process.
- Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment used by an incorporated business would not be taxable.
- Machinery used directly in the purchasing, selling, accounting, or administrative function of the business. Example: Vending machines or point-of-sale equipment is not taxable. A computer used by a bookkeeper or accounting department of a corporation for payroll would be exempt, however, a computer used to do a client's taxes would be taxable.
Note: Machinery used to provide a service or produce a product for sale or to generate income is taxable. Example: A computer and printer used by a real estate company to generate and distribute information to a prospective client would be taxable.
- Individuals (Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships)
- What are manufacturing corporations/public utilities?
Businesses that are classified by the Department of Revenue as "Manufacturing Corporations" and are listed as such in the Massachusetts Domestic and Foreign Corporation Book are not subject to personal property taxes. Link to Massachusetts Domestic and Foreign Corporation Book The Department of Revenue determines values on poles, underground conduits, wires, and pipes for certain landline telecommunications carriers and for gas pipelines.
- How do I appeal personal property tax?
Property owners who feel that their personal property is overvalued or exempt may file for abatement. The Abatement Application is available in January at the Assessors' Office in Town Hall, or at [website for abatement application] and may be filed after the Town has mailed the Third Quarter tax bill on or about December 31. The application for abatement must be received by the Assessors' Office no later than the close of business on the last day of the abatement filing period, which is generally the first workday in February (February 1). If submitted via USP, the envelope must be postmarked no later than that same February 1 (first workday) date. Once submitted, the Board of Assessors has 90 days from the date the application was received to act on the appeal. Each and every appeal will receive written notification of the Assessors' action.
Filing for an abatement does not put your tax payment on hold. Tax payments need to be rendered in a timely manner in order to protect further appeal rights to the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessors regarding your abatement request, you may file an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board (ATB). This must be done within three months of the Assessors' decision.
The Assessing Department may require owners or lessees of personal property to provide certain information in writing as may be reasonable to determine the actual fair cash valuation of the property. Failure to comply with the request within thirty days will bar any appeal of the tax assessed unless the owners or lessees were unable to comply for reasons beyond their control. Any false statement that is knowingly made will also bar the taxpayer from any statutory appeal.
Requests for extension to file the Form of List must be made in writing and approved by the Director of Assessing. Requests must be made 3 business days prior to the deadline for submitting your return.
Please note: if no Form of List was filed for the fiscal year, the Assessor cannot grant an abatement for the overvaluation of personal property for the year. A Form of List is not considered filed unless it is complete and returned by the deadline.