Essex County 2020 property tax rates: a Town by Town guide

Property tax rates for FY 2020 for all 34 cities and towns in Essex County have been announced. Below is a map (which you can download by clicking here), so that you can compare tax rates in neighboring towns, followed by the tax rates for each town the last five years. The first table shows the tax rates in alphabetical order, while the second lists them from low to high.

Property tax rates


Tax rates for each town
Alphabetically (download a copy of this table by clicking here.

Property tax rates

Property tax rates

From lowest to highest based on 2020 rates (download a copy of this table by clicking here)

property tax rates

property tax rates


Median and Average Tax Rates
The median tax rate for 2020 is $13.68, down from $14.02 in 2018, while the average tax rate has dropped from $13.95 to $13.80. The highest taxed town, Wenham, has a rate 38% higher than the County median, while the lowest, Rockport, is 26% below the median. Or put another way, the highest tax rate in Essex County is 88% higher than the lowest.

How property tax rates are calculated
There are two main points to understand:
The dollar amount raised by property taxes is based on a simple formula: the dollar levy for the previous year plus 2 1/2% (Prop 2 1/2), plus any new growth (e.g. new construction), plus debt service.
The tax rate is then calculated by dividing the dollar amount to be raised by the Assessed Value of all property. For FY 2020 (July 2019-June 2020) Assessed Values are based upon sales during 2018. Sales in 2019 will be used for calculating the FY 2021 tax rates.
20 of Essex County’s cities and towns choose a single tax rate, whereby residential and commercial properties are taxed at the same rate. The other 14 cities and towns choose a split tax rate whereby commercial properties are taxed at a higher rate – in some cases a much higher rate.
A separate report on commercial tax rates can be read by clicking here.

For a walk through the tax calculation read How is Marblehead’s 2020 Tax Rate calculated?

Tax rate changes in 2020
Of the 34 cities and towns in Essex County, 22 have announced decreases in their 2020 residential tax rate while 12 have had increases approved. Decreases of 5% or more were seen in Lawrence, Amesbury, Lynn, Swampscott, Merrimac and Methuen, while 5% or larger increases were recorded in Wenham, Essex and Rowley. Bear in mind that a major determinant of the change in tax rates is the movement in Assessed Values. Thus, in a time of rising home prices, a general expectation is that tax rates should be flat to down.

Tax Rates of Neighboring Towns
Where taxes become interesting is when one can compare tax rates in neighboring towns. Many people, especially those moving to the area, whether from Boston or elsewhere, are willing to consider more than one town.There are many factors in the decision about where to live, but tax rates can be a significant influence on the decision, and may become more so with the new limitation on the deduction of property taxes from Federal taxation. Some argue that lower property values offset higher taxes. Frequently, however, residents of highly taxed towns cite taxes as a reason for wanting to move.

Andrew Oliver
Market Analyst | Team Harborside |

Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty
One Essex Street | Marblehead, MA 01945
m 617.834.8205

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