Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: Rules governing the practice of law in Massachusetts prohibit City of New Bedford personnel from providing legal assistance or advice to taxpayers. For legal advice, please consult your own attorney.

I received a Land Court citation by certified mail, what does it mean?

A Land Court citation is official notice that the City has filed a complaint to foreclose rights of redemption for non-payment of real estate taxes on a parcel which you may own or in which you may have another type of legal interest. Any parties who have been served who do not answer the Land Court citation by the return day indicated on the citation may be defaulted from the case. Please consult your attorney or the Land Court, 226 Causeway Street, 2d Floor, Boston, MA 02114, for information on filing an Answer.

Where can I find out how much I owe in back real estate taxes?

You may call the Collector-Treasurer’s office, 508-979-1429. Please have your parcel identification information available when calling the Collector-Treasurer’s office; you can find the parcel information on your property tax bill or the City website.

What if I am unable to pay my tax bill?

First check with the City Assessor’s office, 508-979-1440, to see if you qualify for a tax exemption, abatement, or in limited cases, a tax deferral and the deadlines have not passed. While the Assessor’s office is unable to eliminate the property tax, they may be able to offer possible solutions or refer you to an agency that may be able to assist you, such as the elderly services or City Department of Housing and Community Development. Remember, if you find yourself in this type of situation, the sooner you contact the City, the better the chances are to find a resolution.

Can I enter into a payment plan to pay delinquent property taxes?

Yes, unless you defaulted on a previous payment plan. Taxpayers must request payment plans in writing. Please send your payment plan request to the City of New Bedford Treasurer’s Office, Tax Title Division at the address provided on this brochure. The Tax Title Division will respond to your request; taxpayers must agree to certain conditions and make payments beginning 30 days after the plan is signed.

Can I negotiate the amount due or can you waive interest and fees?

No, Massachusetts’ law does not authorize the City to waive or compromise taxes. In some circumstances, the City may forgive up to 40% of the interest. Generally taxpayers must pay the taxes or qualify for an abatement.

My property was foreclosed. How do I redeem the property? Can I enter into a payment plan to redeem it?

You must submit your request to redeem foreclosed property in writing to the Treasurer’s office. The Tax Title division will provide you with the cost to redeem the property if the City is not opposed to redemption. The cost to redeem will include all costs the City incurred to foreclose and maintain the property. Once the tax title account is paid in full, the Tax Title division will file a petition to vacate the Judgment and withdraw the case from Land Court. Payment plans are not authorized to redeem foreclosed property; the taxpayer must pay the account in full.

I never received my tax bills. Why do I have to pay interest and fees?

Under Massachusetts’ law, failure to receive a property tax bill does not affect the validity of the tax or any interest or fines incurred due to late payments. It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to secure his or her tax bill when one is not received. You can request a duplicate tax bill by calling the Treasurer’s office at 508-979-1430.

I know of a property that the City is in the process of foreclosing. Can I buy it from the City for back taxes?

If the City has not foreclosed title to the property, it can not sell it. If you wish to purchase a property in Tax Title, you must purchase it directly from the current equity owner. The City Treasurer maintains and disposes of foreclosed properties for the City. The City disposes of foreclosed property either through the Abutter’s Lot Program, a request for proposals or a public auction

Does the City of New Bedford offer assistance to property owners facing foreclosure?

The City’s Council on Aging may be able to offer assistance to eligible persons. The Department of Housing and Community Development may be able to offer foreclosure prevention services to owner occupant homeowners who are at risk of losing their home due to mortgage foreclosure. The Tax Title Division offers payment plans to eligible persons as stated above.