The Board of Assessors in each city and town in the state of Massachusetts is required by law to list and value all real and personal property. Valuation is subject to ad valorem taxation on an assessment roll each year, which means that all property should be taxed according to value. In Massachusetts, assessed values are based on “full and fair” cash value, or 100% of the fair market value.
Assessors are required to submit these values to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for certification every three years. In the years between certification, assessors must also maintain the values. Assessors review property sales each year to determine if changes in assessed values should be made. This is done so that the taxpayer pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government, in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth, on a yearly basis rather than only every three years.
The Board of Assessors does not in any way determine how much taxes the Town must raise. That process is done at Town Meeting each year. The Board’s primary responsibility is to determine the "full and fair cash value" of each property in Town. Market activity in the prior year will usually determine the current level of assessments each year while Town meeting votes and other local obligations determine the tax levy (amount to be raised by taxation).
Members of the board are elected for 3-year terms.