STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT
I'm Robert J. Gaines, Esq., President of Ridgefield Valuation. Since 1989, I've successfully negotiated or litigated over four thousand commercial, industrial and large residential property tax abatements in more than one hundred fifty cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, saving my commercial, industrial and large residential clients literally millions of dollars. I prepare and negotiate each case myself. Because of my vast experience in the field of property taxation, I know how to maximize your chances for an abatement. If you are seeking a professional specialist in this field, you’ve come to the right place. If you suspect that your commercial, industrial or large residential property in Massachusetts or Southern New Hampshire is over-assessed (i.e have a property tax assessment which exceeds the property’s fair market value), I can spot it, and do something about it!
In this business, reputation, experience and relationships are the decisive factors in obtaining an abatement. Ridgefield has all three: We know the players and have working relationships in assessing offices throughout the state Massachusetts. We've handled almost every kind of property tax abatement, and truly specialize in this field. Industrial properties, office buildings, flex properties, large residential apartment buildings, retail properties, and virtually any kind of commercial, income producing property can be excellent candidates for property tax abatement if they are assessed by the city or town for more than their fair market value.
Personal attention to your case from the head of the company is what distinguishes Ridgefield Valuation from some other property tax firms. When you hire Ridgefield to handle your property tax matters, you've hired the President of the company; a specialist who understands the state of the art and makes a career out of getting results. I've got a personal stake in your case. Isn't that what you want from anyone representing your interests?
Last year our commercial, industrial and large residential property tax clients in Massachusetts and New Hampshire received hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax refunds. I've included a few of the many testimonials from clients who have saved tax dollars through our efforts. And Ridgefield Valuation can help you too. But remember, there is roughly a 30 day deadline in which to file for an abatement. So contact me today and I'll act quickly on your behalf. There is absolutely no risk or up-front expense to you since we are paid only on the basis of results.
ROBERT J. GAINES, ESQ.
Experienced Property Tax Attorney
Robert J. Gaines is an attorney and principal of Ridgefield Valuation which provides property tax representation to commercial, industrial and large residential owners before local Boards of Assessors. As a Massachusetts attorney who is an experienced property tax professional, specializing in commercial, industrial and large residential property, he also maintains a law practice which provides property tax representation, and has been practicing since 1977. Mr. Gaines' professional activities concentrate almost exclusively in the area of property tax representation. He has had extensive experience negotiating property tax abatements with local Massachusetts assessors, and has provided legal representation in numerous property tax appeals to the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board. Since 1988, Mr. Gaines has represented over 1000 commercial and industrial property owners in more than 4,000 property tax abatement cases in over 150 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has secured literally millions of dollars in property tax abatements for his clients, and maintains a reputation for excellence among local assessors and practitioners. Prior to his work as a property tax representative and attorney, Mr. Gaines was an Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Public Protection Bureau, and later was a General Partner for a Massachusetts real estate development company.
BRYAN D. GAINES, ESQ.
Experienced Property Tax Attorney
Bryan D. Gaines is the Director of Valuation for Ridgefield. He spent over 6 years working for the City of Boston Assessing Department, where he helped administer a mass appraisal system for property valuation, and eventually became the Director of Assessing Services for all condominiums in Boston. Mr. Gaines negotiated, and acted on, hundreds of abatement applications during his time with the Boston Assessing Department, and is experienced testifying at the Appellate Tax Board on issues of fair market value. Mr. Gaines graduated from New England Law Boston in May 2019, and passed the Bar Exam in July.
"I want to thank you for your success in reducing the property taxes on our automobile dealership... Through your efforts we received $7,505.41 in property tax abatements from the City of Peabody. That represented a reduction in our tax of 25.4%, which was no small task! In today's economy, property owners must be ever vigilant of the bottom line. Using Ridgefield Valuation to help control property taxes has proved to be a smart business decision. I highly recommend your services to any property owner concerned about the fairness and accuracy of his property taxes. Thanks again for doing a tremendous job for us! We look forward to working again with you in the future."
Paul Ducette, Controller, Peabody Chrysler-Plymouth, loc.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: HOW ARE PROPERTY TAX BILLS ABATED?
A: In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, property tax bills are abated through a two stage process. The first stage is the timely filing of a proper abatement application, complete with supporting data, with the local assessor. The assessor then has ninety days to take action on the application for abatement. If no action is taken within the ninety day period, the application is "deemed denied" by operation of law. The second stage, for applications which are denied or deemed denied, is an appeal to the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board ("ATB"). The ATB is a state administrative agency which oversees the property tax abatement decisions of local assessors.
Q: HOW DOES ONE QUALIFY FOR AN ABATEMENT?
A: The local assessor may grant a property tax abatement if the owner can establish that the property in question has been assessed for more than the fair market value of the property as of the assessment date. In addition, the owner must pay the property tax bill and file the abatement application in a timely fashion. See "Ten Question To Ask Before Paying Your Next Property Tax Bill" which illustrates ten possible clues that a property has been be over-assessed.
Q: HOW LONG DOES THE ABATEMENT PROCESS TAKE?
A: All abatement applications must be filed within the time period stated on the actual tax bill. Under state law, taxpayers have until the due date for payment of the tax bill in which to file an abatement application. Once the application is filed, the local assessor has ninety days to act on the application. If the application is denied or deemed denied, the taxpayer then has ninety days to file an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board. Once the appeal is filed, the matter is eventually marked up for a hearing, which can take over a year.
Q: IS THERE A COST TO FILE AN ABATEMENT APPLICATION?
A: In Massachusetts, there is no filing fee or cost to submit a property tax abatement application with the local assessor. A small fee may be charged to evaluate the property's value. However, once Ridgefield Valuation determines that the property is a strong candidate for abatement, it provides all the necessary services, including preparation of the application, negotiation and follow up until you receive the abatement check(s) or credit, on a contingent-fee basis. This means that Ridgefield is paid out of the tax savings, if and only if the owner receives an abatement. There is, however, a filing fee, and some potential cost to file an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board. However, in the event that an appeal is necessary, the potential of the case can be discussed to ensure that an appeal is cost- effective.
Q: WHAT IS THE CONTINGENT FEE CHARGED FOR YOUR SERVICES?
A: Ridgefield Valuation typically charges a 35% contingent fee, covering the years remaining in the revaluation period. This fee is discounted, however, for property owners with larger properties, multiple properties, affordable housing properties, and in same cases for those owners who contact us well in advance of receipt of the actual property tax bill. Note: Although representation before the local board of assessors is done on a contingent fee basis, a small fee may apply in order to evaluate the market value of certain properties to determine if they are strong, cost-effective candidates for abatement.
Q: I'M INTERESTED! WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
A: Contact us at 781-893-9300 and ask for Robert or Bryan Gaines. They will answer any remaining questions you might have, then send you the materials to enable Ridgefield Valuation to evaluate your property as a candidate for a property tax abatement. It is best to contact us well before the tax bills are mailed to give us sufficient lead time to do prepare your case. So call today!
TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK
TEN SIMPLE QUESTIONS EVERY PROPERTY OWNER SHOULD ASK BEFORE PAYING THE NEXT REAL ESTATE TAX BILL
Your real estate tax bill is based on the value or "assessment" assigned to your property by the local assessor. Before you write out your next property tax check, consider whether any of the following questions apply to your property. If any of these questions can be answered in the affirmative, there is a possibility that your commercial or industrial property is over-assessed.
1. Did you recently purchase the property?
If you recently purchased your property, you could qualify for a refund, provided the price you paid was less than the assessed value. For example, the assessment date for FY 2018 is January 1, 2017. So, an "arms-length" purchase during 2016 and forward would be highly relevant.
2. Is the property in poor physical condition?
If the property suffers from substantial "deferred maintenance" and is in poor condition, the assessment may not be accurate. Many times cities or towns are unaware of a property’s true condition.
3. Has the property recently suffered from substantial vacancy?
If a property has been lying dormant, or has substantial vacancy, the result may be a diminution of market value. High vacancy can therefore be a solid reason for a reduction in assessed value.
4. Does the property have any kind of environmental contamination?
If a property cannot qualify for a clean "21E", and has some form of documented environmental contamination, the market value can be adversely affected.
5. Does the property receive more than one property tax bill?
Many times, properties with multiple parcels are over-assessed, because the extra parcel does not contribute any additional value. For example, a shopping plaza with an additional land parcel which provides essential parking on site.
6. Does the property have any protected wetlands on the site?
If a parcel contains protected wetlands, it means that a part of it is unuseable. The assessor may have been unaware of wetlands on the site.
7. Is the property’s potential income less than the amount assumed by the assessor?
Assessors sometimes over-estimate the amount of income that a property is capable of generating. Since assessments are often based on an income valuation, such over-estimates can result in inaccurate assessments.
8. Have similar properties in the area recently sold?
By examining the sales prices of similar properties in the area, and adjusting for any differences, an owner can determine the likelihood that his or her property is over-assessed.
9. Are the Assessor’s records accurate?
All cities and towns keep "property record cards" which contain important information, such as useable building area. However, if these property record cards are inaccurate, the result is often an inaccurate assessment
10. Have you recently had your property appraised?
If your property was recently appraised by a qualified appraiser, the appraisal may indicate an over-valuation. The appraisal, or the information therein, can be used to help establish an over-valuation.Ridgefield Valuation has successfully negotiatedwell over 4,000 property tax applications, in cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We know how to maximize your chances for an abatement! So call us today.
MASSACHUSETTS APPELLATE TAX BOARD
A RESOURCE FOR COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL AND LARGE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAX APPEALS
WHAT IS THE MASSACHUSETTS APPELLATE TAX BOARD?
When a local Board of Assessors denies an abatement application, the property owner may appeal that decision to the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board. The "ATB" is a state administrative agency in Boston which, among other duties, oversees local assessors' decisions as to abatement applications. It provides a relatively inexpensive and efficient administrative process for resolving property tax disputes in the Commonwealth of MA. (New Hampshire has a similar Board called the NH Board of Tax and Land Appeals) Owners in Massachusetts generally have a ninety day window from the date that an application is denied in which to file an appeal with the ATB. An appeal to the ATB provides two key benefits to property owners whose abatement applications are denied: First, an appeal to the ATB keeps the matter alive, since the owner's rights expire unless such an appeal is taken in a timely fashion. Second, an appeal provides the property owner with a right to a hearing on the merits before the ATB, should the parties be unable to resolve the matter through negotiation.
EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE COUNT
Cases which require an appeal to the Appellate Tax Board should be handled by a competent attorney familiar with the ATB's procedures and also with Massachusetts property tax issues. Finding such an attorney can be difficult since "ad valorem" law is not a common practice specialty among many attorneys. Robert J. Gaines is a licensed attorney who specializes in ad valorem law. He practices before the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board on a regular basis, and has been doing so since 1989. His background and knowledge of property valuation, as well as his extensive experience litigating property tax appeals before the Board, means that he has all the tools necessary to represent your interests well at the Appellate Tax Board.
PERSONAL ATTENTION TO YOUR APPEAL
Attorney Gaines personally evaluates, prepares and follows through on all Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board appeals handled by his office. In addition, he coordinates the preparation of the appraisal, when necessary, and works with the appraiser to prepare his or her testimony in support of the appeal. Many Appellate Tax Board appeals eventually result in negotiated settlements. Attorney Gaines has successfully negotiated or litigated over four thousand commercial, industrial and large residential property tax abatements in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and can evaluate prospective appeal or any offer of settlement being recommended by the assessor. In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, Attorney Gaines has the knowledge and experience to represent you at the hearing before the Appellate Tax Board, present your case through an appraiser, and complete the appeal process.
You can contact Attorney Gaines about whether your case is a good candidate for property tax abatement by clicking here.
Ridgefield Valuation has earned a reputation as one of the leaders in the field of property tax abatement for affordable housing. The valuation of affordable housing is subject to different "rules" than conventional market-based housing. Consequently, we have found that many affordable housing properties are over-assessed, and their owners are paying more than their fair share of property taxes.
We have secured literally millions of dollars in property tax refunds for these properties, including actually cutting some tax bills by more than half! This has helped many of these properties tremendously in meeting the challenges of operating in the black. In the last few years alone, Ridgefield Valuation’s affordable housing clients, many of whom are non-profit organizations, have received over $2.5 million in property tax abatements! We have achieved this success because we understand exactly how affordable housing should be assessed, and have been able to work with assessors throughout the state to ensure that such properties are assessed correctly.
Many organizations which own and manage affordable housing throughout Massachusetts have benefitted from our property tax abatement services, including The Community Builders, Mass. Housing Investment Corp (MHIC), HAP, Inc., Urban Edge Corp., Cornu Management, WinnResidential, Maloney Properties, Nuestra Comunidad, Salem Harbor CDC, First Church in Malden, Bowdoin Apartments Corp., Lorenzo Pitts, Inc., and Tenants Development Corporation.
If you own or manage affordable housing, you owe it to yourself to have your property tax assessment reviewed for overvaluation, to ensure that you are paying the correct amount of property taxes.
THE HOMEOWNER'S GUIDE TO PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT
IN MASSACHUSETTS AND THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES
Ridgefield Valuation specializes in commercial and industrial property tax abatements in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
However, over the years, many clients and interested homeowners have asked how to ensure that they are paying no more than their fair of property taxes on their home. Robert J. Gaines, Esq., President of Ridgefield Valuation, recently authored a self-help guide for residential property taxpayers entitled “The Homeowner’s Guide To Property Tax Abatement”.
This 100 page Guide was written for homeowners who are concerned that they are overpaying their property taxes, and want an effective system to ensure that they pay only their fair share.
Learn How To Determine If Your Home Is Being Properly Assessed.
Learn The Secrets To Successfully Obtaining A Property Tax Abatement.
Everything is explained in simple, easy-to-understand language by Robert J. Gaines, an experienced tax abatement professional with over twenty years of experience and over three thousand tax abatements!
HERE'S A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU'LL GET IN THE GUIDE:
A Step-By-Step Guide To Navigate Through The Property Tax System. (Written In Plain English So It’s Simple And Easy To Understand!)
Audio Support To Help Answer Your Questions And Keep You On Track.
A Step-By-Step Method To Determine The Value Of Your Home.
How To Know Whether You Have A Case For Abatement.
How To Present Your Abatement Application Effectively, Including Valuable Negotiation Tips.
The 5 Most Common Mistakes Home Owners Make And How To Avoid Them.
The cost of the Guide is $149.00, and there is a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee. To order The Homeowner’s Guide to Property Tax Abatement simply call us at 781-893-9300. It could save you thousands in property taxes!
CUT YOUR COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts many types of personal property are taxable, based upon the fair market value of the property or the price paid on the open market by willing buyers. However, we have found that many cities and towns typically tax such personal property items based on rigid straight line depreciation tables. Because some kinds of personal property can lose significant market value from one year to the next due to functional obsolesence or a change in market conditions, the assessed values pulled from these tables can often exceed the fair market value of the personal property.
Ridgefield Valuation is experienced in obtaining personal property tax abatements for Massachusetts commercial and industrial businesses. For example, last tax year we obtained over $28,000 in personal property tax abatements for a local chain of fitness centers. If you have a personal property tax bill which exceeds $5,000 it is wise to consult Ridgefield Valuation to determine if there is a case for a personal property tax abatement; and if so, to utilize Ridgefield to represent you on a contingent fee basis.