Whether your property tax is excessive or not depends, NOT on the amount of tax itself and NOT on whether the valuation is greater than it had been previously, BUT on whether the valuation of your property is REASONABLE in COMPARISON with the valuations of other properties in your municipality.
Your property tax may be high when compared with similar properties in other towns, if the taxable resources in your town are poorer than those of another town or if your town’s needs, as reflected by annual appropriations, are greater than those of another town. Thus the mere fact that your property tax is high is not grounds for seeking abatement.
Your property valuation may be increased from that of the previous year even though no physical change has been made in the structure. If the Assessor finds the previous valuation in error, necessary adjustments, will be made. No notice to the taxpayer is required. Therefore, an increase in valuation from the previous year is not grounds for seeking an abatement.
As a taxpayer, who believes his property valuation is greater than it should be, you should first determine whether, in your opinion, the valuation of your property is in line with that of other similar properties within your town. You can do this by asking the Assessor for permission to examine the valuation book to compare the valuation of your property with that of other properties with which you may be familiar. The valuation book is a public record and is available for public inspection at reasonable times and under reasonable safeguards. If you find from such examination that your valuation bears the same relation to the actual worth as the AVERAGE valuation of other properties, then you have no sound basis for requesting an abatement. Since variations are apt to be found in the valuation of properties in most towns, it is necessary to consider if you are being assessed equitably in comparison to other properties.
We recommend that you contact the Assessing office for an explanation of how your assessment was determined. The Assessing staff should be prepared to demonstrate that the property is assessed similarly to comparable properties and that the assessment is appropriate in relation to the market value established by similar qualified arms length sale transactions. If, after reviewing your valuation in this light, you feel you are entitled to relief, then you should follow the procedure outlined below.
Maine State Statutes provide that a property owner who believes his local property valuation is excessive must seek relief through a written request to the Assessor within 185 days of the date the value was committed to the Tax Collector. (Commitment date is just prior to the mailing of the tax bills.) This written request simply states that you are requesting an abatement and lists your reasons why you feel you are entitled to one. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Assessor, you may appeal to the Board of Assessment Review within sixty (60) days after receiving notice of the Assessor’s decision. If the Assessor fails to give written notice of the decision within sixty (60) days, your abatement request is deemed denied. Either party may appeal the decision of the Board of Assessment Review directly to the Superior Court. With regard to non-residential property with a valuation of $1,000,000 or greater appeals are made to the State Board of Property Tax Review.
Property owners may file for a property tax abatement if they can prove any illegality, error or irregularity in their assessment. A person seeking an abatement based on an error in valuation has the burden of proving the assessed value is manifestly wrong. The taxpayer must be able to prove one of three things.
1) The judgment of the Assessor was irrational or unreasonable in light of the circumstances that the property is substantially overvalued and an injustice results;
2) There was unjust discrimination; or
3) The assessment was fraudulent, dishonest or illegal.
Abatement Application (to contest your assessment)
Appeal Application (to appeal the results of your abatement to the Board of Assessment Review)