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Residential Tax Exemptions

When reviewing property information in the MLS, you may notice that two homes in the same city and at the same basic price point appear to have vastly different property taxes. More than likely, this is because the one with the lower tax has a residential exemption — a great perk for those of us living in Cambridge and Somerville.

Here’s how it works: if you own a home in Cambridge or Somerville and use it as your primary residence, you can get an exemption for a portion of the assessed value of your home, thereby reducing your tax obligation quite significantly — by $1,531.83 in Cambridge (2010 amount) and by $1,704.06 in Somerville (2009).

Keep in mind that when you buy a home in one of these towns, your taxes the first year are based on the status of the prior owner. Going into your second year, you can file a residential exemption application and your tax rate will be adjusted. More information on the residential exemptions for Cambridge and Somerville are available online. Several other cities in the metro area, including Boston, also have residential exemptions — to find out, ask your Realtor or visit the assessment section of the city’s website.


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