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Explaining the MIL Rate
How It Affects Your Taxes

What does MIL mean? MIL stands for millage and is based on the Latin word for ‘thousandth’. One mill is equal to 1/1000th. The millage rate or MIL rate is synonymous with local tax rates on Martha's Vineyard. The MIL rate changes year over year in relation to local property valuations which are based upon previous sales within the six separate towns on Martha's Vineyard. Each town is assigned its own MIL (tax) rate and that is the method used to determine the taxes that are to be paid on a property in each town here on Martha's Vineyard. That tax rate when multiplied by your property value (assessed value calculated by the tax assessor) equals your tax bill.

For example: a residential property that has been assessed at $850,000.00 in 2009 is taxed at a residential mil rate of 351 mils. To determine the amount of property tax that is paid on that house, you multiply the assessed value by the mil rate. $850,000 x 0.00351% = $2,983.50.

Just because the mil rate increases, this does not necessarily mean the tax paid will go up in direct proportion, or viceversa. The assessed value is a separate calculation each town makes based upon many factors that will determine what the final tax paid will be. What is assessed value? Assessed value is the price placed on land and buildings by a government tax assessor for use in levying property taxes. The assessed value of the property may be different from the appraised value. Appraised value or market value is rarely the same as assessed value. It is common that when assessed values go up radically, the mil rate is adjusted downward so that the impact on the taxpayer is not extreme.

The assessing authorities use a fractional formula to determine what percentage of market value your house is worth. Usually they call this figure the sales ratio. This can be called, depending on the jurisdiction, the average ratio, assessment level, director's ratio, the common level of 100% of true value, RAR (residential assessment ratio) or the equalization rate (which may not always be equivalent to the sales ratio). For Martha's Vineyard real estate, the sales ratio is 100% so if a house sells for a market value of $850,000 it would be assessed at $850,000.

Here is the residential mil rate history for six consecutive years in all six Martha's Vineyard Island towns: Aquinnah (Gay Head), Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury (Vineyard Haven), and West Tisbury.

TOWN 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
Aquinnah 6.27  6.39 6.81 6.12 5.48 5.50
Chilmark 2.82  2.91 2.86 2.88 2.75 2.68
Edgartown 3.03  3.28 3.35 3.87 3.87 3.55
Oak Bluffs 6.79 7.37 7.44  7.69   7.83  8.15 
Tisbury 8.70*    9.17** 9.33  9.17 9.45 9.11
West Tisbury 5.82  6.10 6.07 6.18 6.06 5.97

Tisbury 2022 Commercial = 8.12* ~ Tisbury 2021 Commercial = 8.58**
Note: 2022 Tisbury Selected Residential Exemption Percentage for qualifying parcels remains the same as 2021 = 
18% (of the Average Assessment)

(Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59 § 5c)

PURPOSE: The purpose of the residential exemption is to reduce property taxes for year-round residents, particularly those with modest homes.

DEFINITION: The residential exemption is a dollar amount of value that is exempt from taxation. It requires an annual decision of the Board of Selectmen after a public hearing.

For example, if the residential exemption were $30,000, a home with an assessed value of $150,000 would be taxed on $120,000 of value. This exemption value, when multiplied by the residential tax rate, represents the dollar amount of the exemption.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: For fiscal year 2022, a taxpayer that owns residential property in Tisbury, which was their principle residence on January 1, 2022 may apply for a residential exemption. A principle residence is one in which the taxpayer lives and which is used as a permanent, year-round home and legal domicile. Although it is the Selectmen who decide whether or not Tisbury will have the exemption, it is the Board of Assessors’ responsibility to administer it. The Board of Assessors must be convinced that the taxpayer was domiciled as of January 1, 2022, at the address for which the residential exemption is being claimed.

FILING DATES: The residential exemption will be reflected on the Fiscal Year 2022 actual tax bill. Property owners who do not receive a credit on this bill and believe they may be entitled to the exemption must file an application for this exemption with the Assessors Office on or before April 1, 2022.

HOW TO APPLY: Complete and submit an Application for Residential Exemption (State Tax Form 128-5C) on or before April 1st. This form is available in the Assessors Office, Tisbury Town Hall 51 Spring Street. The Assessors office is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M.

NOTE: The burden of proof is on the taxpayer regarding establishment of place of domicile. All documents must be in the Assessors Office by the legal deadline, or the Board of Assessors, by law, must deny the exemption application.

Complete signed copies of both Federal & Massachusetts (full year resident) Tax Returns for year 2021* Income figures and social security numbers may be blacked out.

Mass Driver's License of at least one owner showing street residence as of 1/1/21

Registration of at least one vehicle garaged at street residence as of 1/1/21.

Must be listed as a resident on the Town Clerk’s census as of 1/1/21.

Copy of fiscal year 2022 actual Real Estate tax bill.

There is also an exemption for personal property, if a year-round resident is getting a Personal Property Tax Bill. Please contact the Town Assessor (508-696-4206) for more information and for application forms.

You may be asking, why is my home tax assessment different from the price I could sell my house for? One reason is that the Assessors make their property valuations anywhere from 12-months to 18-months before the assessments are published, so numbers are not necessarily representative of current market conditions. Your true home value is the 'market value'. The definition for market value is the most probable price that a property will sell for in a free market of buyers and sellers, free from constraining pressures or unusual situations. That value is found by hiring a licensed appraiser and obtaining a current home appraisal. On Martha's Vineyard you will find there is usually a considerable difference between the assessed value and the current market value.

Another question I am asked by buyers is, "After I buy my home, will my taxes go up immediately?" The answer is no, not necessarily. The assessment and tax will remain status quo until the next valuation period and then you will be assessed at 100% of the current property value. The Assessors normally will revalue properties every three years.

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