Tax Rate

There was a lot of political banter during the recent election season about the fact that the  tax rate did not go up.

My guess is that a lot of voters were stymied by this. They may have assumed that the tax rate WILL not go up. The truth is that we have to wait and see. What the politicos did not tell you is that the tax rate is not set until after the election. This gives them the oppurtunity to tell you that they should be re-elected because the rate has not changed. They are not lying to you they are simply obfuscating the truth.
How do I know this?
I went to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website. There I used the pull down menu and found Methuen. I set the year, (remember to use Fiscal year here and not, neccessarily calendar year) to 2010.
When I hit the PREVIEW button, it clearly states “The Tax Rate for the selected Jurisdiction and Fiscal Year is not set”.

Another great feature of this State run site is the Municipal Calendar. This part of the site gives an overview of the calendar and, more importantly, an activities for each month feature. You can step through and see when activity should occur that affects your tax rate.

I went to October activities. There I see that by the end of the month, October 31, the following must or should occur;

[Note that this is 4 days before the Municipal Election]

Accountant: Submit Schedule A for Prior Fiscal Year

This report is a statement of the revenues received, expenditures made and all other transactions related to the town’s finances during the previous fiscal year.

The Schedule A classifies revenues and expenditures into detailed categories that will provide information essential for an analysis of revenues and expenditures generated by various departments. This data, like other financial information reported to DOR, is entered into DOR’s Municipal Data Bank; as such, the Department may provide time series, comparative and other types of analyses at the request of a city or town. This information is also sent to the US Census Bureau and eliminates a prior federal reporting requirement. Failure to file by October 31 may result in withholding major distributions of state aid until the Schedule A is accepted by BOA (Bureau of Accounts).

Assessors: Begin Work on Tax Rate Recapitulation Sheet (to set tax rate for quarterly tax bill communities)

The town should begin gathering tax recap information in order to have enough time for the tax rate to be set and tax bills mailed by December 31. See August’s Complete Tax Rate Recapitulation Sheet.

There is other important information here.

If you go to the Massachusetts Division of Local Services Gateway there is a lot of very usefull information about your city or town.   

So, the tax rate doesn’t get set until or no later than December 31, in a calendar year, and the work to do that occurs or starts 3-4 days before the Municipal Election. Isn’t that a nice coincidence. Your tax rate did not increase so elect me. I heard that over and over again. Lot’s of people listened. Most incumbents were returned.

Now when the rate gets set and your tax bills go out and you have to pay more aren’t you, rightly, upset with the elected officials? This is one of a multitude of reasons why people, you, me ,our neighbors, do not trust government.

On top of this subtle subterfuge, comes the double speak. Your tax rate did not increase, we simply revaluated your property. Or some similar nonsense. Lies? No. Bureaucratic doublespeak.

If A x B=C, and A=tax rate and B= valuation and C is the amount I pay, don’t split hairs and tell me that A stayed the same but B went up. As a taxpayer, look at C in this equation. That’s how much I pay and the most important part of the whole discussion from the customer perspective, Remember the customer? We are the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Methuen.



admin posted at 2009-11-9 Category: City Council

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