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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is an assessment?

An assessment is the value placed on property appearing in the Grand List; it is the basis upon which the property tax levy is distributed among the property owners in a community. In order to determine the tax liability of a particular property, the property assessment is multiplied by the municipality's mill rate. In Connecticut, an assessment is equal to 70% of the fair market value of real estate as established by the municipal Assessor. Real estate assessments are established during the town-wide revaluations, which are performed on a five year schedule. For motor vehicles the assessment is 70% of average retail price and recalculated annually as of Oct. 1. For business personal property the assessment is 70% of the depreciated value and is recalculated annually as of Oct. 1. All methods of valuation are established by State Law.

What is a Grand List?

The Grand List is an annual listing of all taxable and tax-exempt property in Westport. The three main categories of property assessed on the Grand List are Real Estate, Motor Vehicles and Personal Property. Real Estate is valued every five year, while Motor Vehicles and Personal Property are valued annually. Regardless of the basis of the property’s valuation or time when it was updated, each property must appear on the Grand List. The total assessed value represents 70% of the value of all properties in Westport.

The Grand List contains the aggregate valuation of all taxable property within Westport. The Net taxable Grand List is the total amount of property assessments on which taxes can be collected and is the Gross Grand List less exemptions and adjustments.

What is the fair market value and who determines it?

Fair market value is a legal term defined by the courts and the state statute as the purchase price, which a property would bring on the open market, given prudent, knowledgeable and willing buyers and sellers. Fair market value is the standard by which the fairness of all assessments is judged.

The buyer and seller of real estate determine the fair market value of real estate. The Appraiser or Assessor analyzes real estate transactions that occur within community and determine the factors that lead to the final sale prices.

Information developed through the analysis of these sales is used by Appraisers and Assessors to develop mathematical models that are utilized in estimating market values of all properties in a community. Some of the typical factors that are used by an appraiser in estimating market values include location, condition, age, size, and quality of improvements.

How is the mill rate established?

The mill rate is established annually by the Board of Finance members through the approval of the town's budget. This process of establishing the mill rate begins with the preparation of the Selectman’s Proposed Budget and concludes with the RTM's approval of the Board of Finance's recommended budget. Following the approval of the budget, the Board of Finance will then establish the mill rate.

The simplified formula for determining the mill rate is the Town Levy divided by the Taxable Grand List. The Town Levy (also known as the Grand Levy) is simply the revenue in the Town Budget that needs to be raised through property tax. The Grand List is a listing of all taxable real estate, motor vehicles and personal property located within the town on Oct. 1, of the 2016 grand list year.

The property tax rate is expressed in mills or thousandths of a dollar. A tax rate (mill rate) for the Grand List 2015 of 16.86 mills is equivalent to $16.86 of taxes per $1,000 of assessed value.

What was Westport's Mill Rate for the October 1, 2017 Grand List? For the October 1, 2016 Grand List? 

For the assessment of Oct. 1, 2017, the mill rate was 16.86 ($16.86 for each $1,000 of assessed value). For the assessment of Oct. 1, 2016, the mill rate was 16.86  

What is revaluation?

State Law requires that all taxable real property be revalued once every five years. All property in Westport was revalued effective with the Oct. 1, 2015 list year. The primary purpose of revaluation is to provide equalization of all property types and classes. The revaluation process is not intended to increase revenue, but rather, to keep the fair market values current, to insure that properties, which have changed in value, are equitably assessed. Based on the requirements of the last revaluation, Westport's next revaluation will be for the Oct. 1, 2020 Grand List.

For more information, visit Vision Appraisal's Revaluation page.

What are some Property Tax Relief Exemptions available?

The Assessor’s Office administers several local and state exemption programs, including:  

  • Senior  and Totally Disabled Homeowners Tax Relief
  • Farm and Forest (Public Act 490)
  • Veterans, Active duty, Blind and Totally Disabled Taxpayers

Please contact the Assessor’s office at 203-341-1070 with any questions regarding requirements and additional information.

What about removing a vehicle from the tax list?

You may be entitled to a credit or refund, if your vehicle is sold and not replaced, destroyed, stolen or removed from Connecticut and registered in another state. Your tax bill will be prorated by the Assessor’s office based on the month in which it was disposed. A request for adjustment must be made in the Assessor’s office and written documentation regarding the disposal must be provided. Application for adjustment should be made as soon as the vehicle is disposed, since there is a statutory time limit on motor vehicle adjustments. Failure to apply on time will result in denial of the proration. Find out more>>

Who do I pay, if I move within Connecticut?

Motor vehicle taxes are due to the municipality where your lived on Oct. 1, so even if you moved by the time you received your tax bill the following July, you must still pay the town where you resided on Oct. 1. Make sure you notify the Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as you move and also let the Assessor’s and Tax Collector’s offices have your new address as well. All delinquent motor vehicle taxes are reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will not be able to renew or register any vehicle in your name, until all taxes, interest and collection costs are paid in full.

What is a Supplemental Motor Vehicle Bill?

Vehicles registered between Oct. 2, and the following July 31, will appear on a "Supplemental Motor Vehicle List" provided to the Assessor by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The assessed value of each "supplemental" vehicle is prorated based upon the month of registration. If you traded in a vehicle on the new vehicle and transferred the license plates, all taxes must be paid on vehicle traded in. You will receive a credit on the supplemental bill based on the total taxes billed on the original vehicle and the date it was traded. Supplemental Motor Vehicle bills are sent out at the end of December and are due in one installment on Jan. 1.