Every qualified Concord homeowner should apply for the town’s new residential tax exemption as soon as possible, Select Board members and Assessors Department staff say — even the owners of higher-priced homes.
Under the exemption program, officials are looking at the assessed value of all the homes in town and calculating an average value. They will take 10 percent of that amount and lop it off the value of each home before applying property tax at a new rate that will be set later this year.
Here’s a hypothetical example with simple numbers:
If the town determines the average value of a Concord home is $1 million, then the 10 percent exemption comes out to $100,000. That $100,000 will be taken off the assessed value of every home whose owners live there as their primary residence — but only if the owners apply successfully for the tax break.
Importantly, owners who do not apply for the exemption will not get any break. They will be taxed on the full assessed value of their homes.
Under this hypothetical, a qualified applicant whose home is assessed at $500,000 would only be taxed on $400,000 of its value. An applicant whose home is assessed at $5 million would be taxed on $4.9 million. Both would be taxed at the same new rate, which the Select Board will set in November.
With the exemption, the owner of the lower-valued home would see their tax bill go down, even if the property tax rate goes up. The bill for the higher-valued home would grow — but not as much as if the owner didn’t apply for exemption. Homes valued near the town average would see the smallest difference in their tax bill.
Dane said he hopes the exemption will help longtime residents remain in Concord — something he says has been “an ongoing struggle” as home values have soared.
“As residential property increases in value, the taxes go up. And so people [who] have lived in those homes for many years — in some cases, for more than one generation — have a very high-value asset, but in order to maintain it, they have to pay very high taxes,” Dane explained.
“They would like to stay in their home and they would like to remain in the community, but they can’t really afford it,” he said. “Then the increase in value gives them a financial incentive to sell and move someplace else where they can live for less money.”
As Select Board Clerk Mary Hartman sees it, the exemption “benefits everyone because it protects the diversity of housing stock in Concord.”