Posts tagged "Assessors"

Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette Inc. v. Board of Assessors of Attleboro (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-049-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12021   SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE INC.  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF ATTLEBORO.       Suffolk.     December 5, 2016. – March 22, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Taxation, Real estate tax:  abatement, Real estate tax:  exemption, Real estate tax:  classification of property.  Real Property, Tax.       Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Diane C. Tillotson (Ryan P. McManus also present) for the taxpayer. Michael R. Siddall (James M. Hannifan also present) for board of assessors of Attleboro. Heidi A. Nadel, for Massachusetts Council of Churches & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief. Felicia H. Ellsworth, Eric L. Hawkins, & William R. O’Reilly, Jr., for Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     GANTS, C.J.  This is an appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) concerning property in Attleboro owned by the taxpayer, Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette Inc. (Shrine).  The Shrine sought a tax abatement from the board, claiming that certain portions of its property were exempt from taxation under G. L. c. 59, § 5, Eleventh (Clause Eleventh), the exemption for “houses of religious worship.”  The crux of the appeal is the scope of this exemption.  For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that property is exempt from taxation under Clause Eleventh where the dominant purpose of the questioned portion of property is religious worship or instruction, or purposes connected with it.  Applying this principle, we conclude that the board erred when it found that the Shrine’s “welcome center” and maintenance building were not exempt under Clause Eleventh.  We affirm its denial of an abatement for the former convent that the Shrine leased to a nonprofit organization for use as a safe house for battered women, and for the wildlife sanctuary that was exclusively managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in accordance with a conservation easement.  The safe house and wildlife sanctuary might have been exempt from real estate taxation under G. L. c. 59, § 5, Third (Clause Third), as the property of a benevolent or charitable organization devoted to charitable use, had the Shrine satisfied the filing requirements for such an exemption, but they were not exempt under Clause Eleventh.[1] Background.  […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 22, 2017 at 2:43 pm

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Verizon New England Inc. v. Board of Assessors of Boston (and a consolidated case) (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-173-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12034   VERIZON NEW ENGLAND INC.  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF BOSTON (and a consolidated case[1]).       Suffolk.     April 7, 2016. – November 2, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, & Hines, JJ.[2]     Telephone Company.  Taxation, Assessors, Personal property tax: value.  Constitutional Law, Taxation.       Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     William Hazel for the taxpayers. Anthony M. Ambriano for board of assessors of Boston. Maura Healey, Attorney General, & Daniel J. Hammond, Assistant Attorney General, for Attorney General & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief. Kenneth W. Gurge, for Massachusetts Municipal Association & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     BOTSFORD, J.  Two telephone companies appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) upholding the property tax assessments by the board of assessors of Boston (assessors) for fiscal year (FY) 2012 on certain personal property each company owns.  At issue is whether the tax assessments, which were based on a “split” tax rate structure determined in accordance with G. L. c. 40, § 56 (§ 56), constituted a disproportionate tax that, as such, violated the Constitution of the Commonwealth.  More particularly, the question is whether the split tax rate structure authorized by § 56 — a rate structure that provides for taxable personal property to be taxed at a rate identical to the rate applied to commercial and industrial real property but higher than the rate that would apply if all taxable property, real and personal, were taxed at a single, uniform rate — violates the proportionality requirement of Part II, c. 1, § 1, art. 4, of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, as amended by art. 112 of the Amendments to the Constitution, as well as art. 10 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.  We conclude that the split tax structure authorized by § 56 and related statutes does not violate the Massachusetts Constitution.  We affirm the board’s decision.[3] Background.[4]  a.  Procedural background.  Verizon New England Inc. (Verizon) and RCN BecoCom LLC (RCN) (collectively, taxpayers) are subject to property tax in the city of Boston on personal property consisting primarily of machinery, poles, underground conduits, wires, and pipes (§ 39 property) that they own and use for business purposes.  Pursuant […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - November 2, 2016 at 3:11 pm

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West Beit Olam Cemetery Corporation v. Board of Assessors of Wayland (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-080-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   15-P-128                                        Appeals Court   WEST BEIT OLAM CEMETERY CORPORATION  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF WAYLAND.     No. 15-P-128.   Suffolk.     April 8, 2016. – July 7, 2016.   Present:  Kafker, C.J., Wolohojian, & Maldonado, JJ.     Cemetery.  Taxation, Real estate tax: exemption, cemetery.       Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.     Sander A. Rikleen for the taxpayer. Mark J. Lanza for board of assessors of Wayland.     KAFKER, C.J.  This is an appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) by West Beit Olam Cemetery Corporation (West Beit Olam), a nonprofit corporation organized in accordance with G. L. c. 114.[1]  West Beit Olam is the record owner of lot 1A, located at 59 Old Sudbury Road in Wayland (town).  In 2012, pursuant to G. L. c. 59, § 5, Twelfth (Clause Twelfth), West Beit Olam applied to the town’s board of assessors (assessors) for a tax abatement for lot 1A.[2]  The assessors denied the application, and West Beit Olam appealed to the board.  After an evidentiary hearing, the board determined that a portion of lot 1A, known as parcel A, was exempt under Clause Twelfth, but the rest of the property was taxable.  West Beit Olam appeals, claiming that all of lot 1A is exempt from taxation exempt under Clause Twelfth.  For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the board’s decision.  In particular, we conclude that the board properly denied a tax exemption for the large part of lot 1A and a building located on it that were contractually restricted to residential use for seven years, including the tax year in question. Background.  We summarize the facts as the board found them, noting that they are essentially undisputed by the parties.  In 1998, the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, Inc. (JCAM), a nonprofit cemetery corporation, purchased property in the town and created the Beit Olam Cemetery.  As part of that purchase, JCAM also secured a right of first refusal on an adjoining parcel, lot 1A, which is the focus of this appeal.  Lot 1A is contiguous to the Beit Olam Cemetery’s western border and is improved with a single-family residence. To accommodate the future expansion of the Beit Olam Cemetery, JCAM created West Beit Olam in 2007 for the purpose  of acquiring lot 1A.  On July 26, 2007, West Beit Olam purchased lot […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

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Russell Block Associates v. Board of Assessors of Worcester (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-145-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-283                                        Appeals Court   RUSSELL BLOCK ASSOCIATES  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF WORCESTER. No. 14-P-283. Suffolk.     November 10, 2014. – September 16, 2015.   Present:  Rubin, Brown, & Maldonado, JJ. Taxation, Real estate tax:  abatement, classification of property.  Real Property, Tax.     Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.     John F. O’Day, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, for board of assessors of Worcester. Daniel I. Cotton for the taxpayer.     BROWN, J.  The board of assessors of Worcester (assessors) challenges a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) granting the taxpayer an abatement of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 tax on its parking garage.  The issue for consideration is whether the board erred by finding and ruling that the subject property was a multiple-use property appropriately classified as part residential and part commercial.[1]  See G. L. c. 59, § 2A(b).  We conclude that the board’s classification determination was a reasonable interpretation of the statutory language.  Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the board. 1.  Facts.  We summarize the board’s findings.[2]  In 1992, the taxpayer, Russell Block Associates, constructed a twenty-four story residential building (Tower) in the city of Worcester.  The Tower development project was conditioned on the construction of a parking garage.[3]  The five-story garage in issue contains 300 parking spaces and is located across a small side street from the Tower.  There are no dwelling units in the garage.  By contract entitled “Agreement to Provide Parking Spaces,” the taxpayer agreed to reserve a minimum of one hundred spaces and up to a maximum of 250 spaces for exclusive use by the tenants of the Tower. For the next nineteen years, the assessors classified the garage as a mixed-use property, taxing a large percentage of its value at the lower residential rate.[4]  In classifying the property in this manner, the assessors followed the guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Revenue (commissioner).[5]  See G. L. c. 58, § 3; McNeill v. Assessors of W. Springfield, 396 Mass. 603, 606 (1986).  Beginning in FY 2012, however, the assessors classified the property as entirely commercial. 2.  Standard of review.  Our task is to embrace an interpretation “consistent with the purpose of the statute and in harmony with the statute as a whole.”  Adams v. Assessors of Westport, 76 Mass. App. Ct. 180, 183-184 (2010), quoting from Sudbury v. Scott, 439 Mass. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm

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New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of Hawley (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-083-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11432     NEW ENGLAND FORESTRY FOUNDATION, INC.  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF HAWLEY. Suffolk.     January 6, 2014.  ‑  May 15, 2014. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Administrative Law, Agency’s interpretation of statute, Findings, Judicial review, Appellate Tax Board:  final decision.  Taxation, Real estate tax:  charity, Real estate tax: exemption, Appellate Tax Board:  appeal to Supreme Judicial Court, Appellate Tax Board:  findings, Judicial review.  Charity.  Corporation, Non‑profit corporation.  Statute, Construction.     Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Douglas Hallward‑Driemeier (Jesse Mohan Boodoo & Jacob Scott with him) for the plaintiff. Rosemary Crowley (David J. Martel with her) for the defendant. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Robert H. Levin, of Maine, for Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, Inc., & another. Gregor I. McGregor & Luke H. Legere for Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, Inc., & another. James F. Sullivan for Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers. Robert E. McDonnell & Patrick Strawbridge for The Nature Conservancy, & another. Lisa C. Goodheart, Susan A. Hartnett, Phelps T. Turner, & Joshua D. Nadreau for The Trustees of Reservations.       SPINA, J.  This case comes to us on direct appellate review from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board).  The taxpayer, New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. (NEFF), is a nonprofit corporation organized under G. L. c. 180.  NEFF is the record owner of a 120-acre parcel of forest land in the town of Hawley.  In 2009, NEFF applied to the board of assessors of Hawley (assessors) for a charitable tax exemption on the parcel under G. L. c. 59, § 5, Third (Clause Third).  The assessors denied NEFF’s application, and NEFF appealed to the board.  The board likewise denied the application on the basis that NEFF had failed to carry its burden to show that it occupied the land in Hawley for a charitable purpose within the meaning of Clause Third.  NEFF again appealed, and both NEFF and the assessors filed applications for direct appellate review.  We granted the parties’ applications, and we reverse the board’s decision. 1.  Background.  The taxpayer, NEFF, is a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation organized under G. L. c. 180, and it has received tax-exempt status from the Federal government under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) (2006).  NEFF was incorporated in […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm

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Beacon South Station Associates, LSE v. Board of Assessors of Boston (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-048-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us       13‑P‑739                                        Appeals Court   BEACON SOUTH STATION ASSOCIATES, LSE[1]  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF BOSTON. No. 13‑P‑739. Suffolk.     February 12, 2014.  ‑  May 14, 2014. Present:  Kafker, Milkey, & Sullivan, JJ.     Taxation, Abatement, Exemption, Leased property, Real estate tax:  abatement, exemption.  Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.  Boston.  Contract, Lease of real estate.  Real Property, Lease.       Appeal from a decision of the  Appellate Tax Board.     Anthony M. Ambriano for the defendant. Stephen H. Oleskey for the plaintiff.       KAFKER, J.  The principal issue in this case is whether certain real estate in Boston owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and leased to a private, for-profit entity was exempt from taxation pursuant to G. L. c. 161A, § 24, in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.[2]  The property in question is the South Station Headhouse (Headhouse), which the MBTA leases to Beacon South Station Associates, LSE, also known as EOP-South Station, LLC (EOP).  The Headhouse consists of an enclosed concourse through which the public passes to access MBTA and Amtrak train platforms, an underground subway connection, office and retail space, a surface facility and parking area, and the surrounding sidewalks.  The real estate taxes assessed on the Headhouse were $ 1,439,974.76 in 2009, and $ 1,135,463.55 in 2010.  EOP filed challenges to the 2009 and 2010 fiscal year assessments on the property with the board of assessors of Boston (assessors), and then appealed to the Appellate Tax Board (board) following the assessors’ refusal to abate the taxes.  The board ruled that G. L. c. 161A, § 24, “expressly exempted the property of the MBTA from taxation, whether or not leased for business purposes,” and granted the abatements.  The assessors appealed. On appeal, the assessors’ primary argument is that the board erred in its conclusion, and the § 24 exemption did not apply to the Headhouse at all because EOP, a private entity, leased the Headhouse from the MBTA and operated it for profit in the tax years in question.  Alternatively, the assessors argue that even if the Headhouse was not subject to a blanket assessment for the years in question, EOP could be taxed on the tenant improvements made to the property because EOP owned these improvements according to the terms of the lease, and they were therefore not property of the MBTA.  Examination of G. L. c. 161, § 24, as […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 14, 2014 at 8:09 pm

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W.A. Wilde Company, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of Holliston (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-095-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us       12‑P‑121                                        Appeals Court   W.A. WILDE COMPANY, INC.  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF HOLLISTON.     No. 12‑P‑121. Suffolk.     October 1, 2012.  ‑  August 8, 2013. Present:  Wolohojian, Brown, & Carhart, JJ.   Taxation, Real estate tax:  abatement, assessment, value, Assessors.       Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.     Matthew A. Luz for the taxpayer. Peter R. Barbieri for board of assessors of Holliston.   BROWN, J.  W.A. Wilde Company, Inc. (taxpayer), appeals from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) denying the taxpayer’s petitions to abate the fiscal year 2007 real estate taxes on two individual parcels situated in the town of Holliston (town).  The question presented is whether, based on the text of G. L. c. 58A, § 12A, the board was obliged to assign the burden of going forward with the necessary proof to the town’s board of assessors (assessors), not the taxpayer, at the administrative hearing.  The board refused.  There was no error.   Facts.  The taxpayer has been the lessee in possession of the parcels, both of which are improved with buildings for industrial and office use.  Under its lease, the taxpayer has been required to pay more than one-half of the taxes on each of the parcels, see G. L. c. 59, § 11, known as 200 and 201 Summer Street.  In fiscal years 2005 and 2006, the taxpayer contested the assessments, filing appeals with the board under the formal procedure.  Each time, the board decided that the taxpayer did not meet its burden to prove the parcels had been overvalued.  This same scenario recurred in fiscal year 2007. a.  Fiscal year 2007 appeal.  After the assessors refused to abate the taxes for fiscal year 2007, the taxpayer again filed petitions with the board under the formal procedure, contesting the 2007 assessed values — 200 Summer Street at $ 3,211,800 and 201 Summer Street at $ 5,012,300 — both of which exceeded, by $ 49,800 and $ 134,800, respectively, the valuations from the prior two fiscal years.  See note 1, supra. At the hearing before the board, the taxpayer advanced an argument that the assessors had the burden of proof to demonstrate the fiscal year 2007 assessments were warranted.  This was required, the taxpayer urged, by G. L. c. 58A, § 12A, as amended by St. 1998, c. 485, § 2, which provides, in relevant part: […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 9, 2013 at 1:45 am

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