A Chapter 91 request is a "Request for Information on Income Producing Properties" which is authorized pursuant to state law. Essentially, once a year, the Tax Assessor can send taxpayers a wrtitten request for physical and financial information about their property. These formal requests, normally issued in the summer, were originally devised to enable Tax Assessors to obtain income and expense information for the purpose of making assessments on income producing properties. The request is generally mailed to the address where the tax bills are received by certified mail, return receipt requested and a written response is required within 45 days of receipt.
Who Must Comply with Chapter 91?
While the original intent of the Chapter 91 law was to allow Tax Assessors to gather physical and financial information on "income producing properties", i.e. properties which are leased, the forms are often sent to owners of properties which are not currently producing income because they are vacant and even properties which have never produced income because they are owner-occupied. Regardless of whether your property actually produces income, everyone who receives a Chapter 91 Request is bound to respond to it within 45 days of receipt.
What Happens if I Fail to Comply?
The failure to comply with Chapter 91 can result in you being barred from appealing your tax assessment in the following year. Even if your assessment is unfair and you have filed a tax appeal, if you have failed to comply with Chapter 91 (or sent it back to the Tax Assessor too late), the muncipality may ask the Court or Tax Board to dismiss your case. In these economic times, with some municipalities paying out millions in tax appeal refunds, they have little choice but to exercise their rights to seek the dismissal of cases under Chapter 91. Remember, because the municipality mailed the request by certified mail, return receipt requested, they will have a written record of the date on which you received it. The failure to comply with Chapter 91 Requests in timely fashion can result in the loss of thousands of dollars in potential tax savings.
How Do I Make Sure I'm in Compliance?
To reduce the chances of falling into the Chapter 91 trap, you should consider taking the following steps: 1) Notify your employees who deal with tax compliance of the potential for a Chapter 91 Request so that they can be on the lookout for it; 2) Be proactive-Call your Tax Assessor in the early summer and ask if they intend to send out Chapter 91 requests that year and at the same time, confirm the best address for you to receive tax-related notices. You may even consider making arrangements to pick up the forms from the Tax Assessor; 3) Be sure to keep a copy of your Chapter 91 response and, even though this is not required by law, consider sending it back by certified mail return receipt requested or hand delivering it so that you have a written record of your timely compliance.
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