Once property has been appraised, grievances heard, appeals made and decided, and tax bills sent out, most towns begin to receive requests for abatement. Distinct from the tax assessment appeal process, abatement is a quasi-judicial process for relieving taxpayers from the burden of property taxes, penalty, and interest. A town board of abatement is comprised of selectboard members, justices of the peace, the clerk, listers, and the treasurer. The abatement process is described at 24 V.S.A. §§ 1533-1537.
To help our members process these requests, VLCT’s Municipal Assistance Center (MAC) has compiled several useful resources for listers, boards of abatement, and officials with tax abatement responsibilities. The resources listed below are all included in our Tax Abatement Toolkit, posted at vlct.org/tax-abatement-toolkit. Each of the following documents can be downloaded separately:
- Tax Abatement Info Sheet
- Model Rules of Procedure for Board of Abatement
- Model Request for Tax Abatement
- Model Abatement Hearing Notice and Agenda
- Model Board of Abatement Decision Form
- Tax Abatement of Homestead Penalty Info Sheet
While the board of abatement only has the authority to grant abatement if it finds that the taxpayer falls within the statutory criteria of 24 V.S.A. § 1535(a), for this year due to COVID-19, the Vermont Legislature has given municipal legislative bodies an alternate method to reduce the burden of property taxes for their citizens. Act 102 (https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/Docs/ACTS/ACT102/ACT102%20As%20Enacted.pdf) gives temporary authority to legislative bodies to establish a grace period for, reduce, or completely waive any penalty, interest, or fee that would otherwise be imposed on taxpayers for the late payment of the municipal or statewide education property tax. This authority remains during the Governor Scott’s declared State of Emergency or until January 1, 2021, whichever ends sooner.
Carl Andeer, Staff Attorney II
VLCT Municipal Assistance Center