Abatements and Appeals
Contesting Your Assessment
Taxpayers may challenge their property tax assessments (not the resulting tax) through the abatement process. Abatement is defined, for the purposes of property assessment, as a reduction in assessment (valuation) resulting in a lesser tax amount. Certain abatements are able to be granted only by the local Assessor while others are only able to be granted through the municipal officers (ie. Selectmen, Council etc.). Below are the various types of abatement requests that can be granted under Maine Law:
Overvaluation ("Error in Valuation")(36 M.R.S.A. § 841 (1)) - If a taxpayer believes their valuation is too high, the taxpayers only remedy (after the commitment of that years taxes) is to submit a written application stating the grounds for abatement. The assessors may also grant an abatement on their own initiative; municipal officers have no authority to grant an abatement based on a claim of overvaluation.
Illegality, Error, or Irregularity(36 M.R.S.A. § 841 (1)) - authorizes the municipal officers to grant an abatement on their own initiative or upon written application at any time after one year but within three years of the commitment of the tax to correct any illegality, irregularity, or error in the assessment; assessors may also grant an abatement on these grounds within one year of commitment. For example, if a person does not own any land in town but is assessed for a parcel regardless, that assessment and the resulting tax is illegal and void.
Abatement Due to Poverty or Infirmity
Per Maine State Statute (36 M.R.S.A. § 841 (2)), taxpayers who, because of illness or poverty, are unable to pay some or all of their taxes may seek an abatement under this section. The municipal officers, not the assessor, are able to grant this type of relief. The General Assistance Administrator is available by appointment to assist with these applications.
An Application for abatement based on overvaluation must be filed within 185 days of the tax commitment. If no application is submitted within that time period, the assessment stands for that tax year. This deadline is jurisdictional and may not be waived by the assessor or by an appeal body.
Upon receipt of an abatement application, the Assessing Division, in the case of improved property, requires an inspection of the property to be certain the information upon which the assessment was made is correct. Refusal to allow an inspection will result in a denial of the application. Please note, making application for an abatement does not guarantee the assessment is reduced. In some cases, a determination is made that the property is under assessed and will be addressed for the following tax year.