Betterments Traffic Sign (120)

Betterments and Your Tax Bill

Whenever part of a community benefits from a public improvement, or betterment (e.g., water, sewer, sidewalks, etc.), special property taxes may be assessed to the property owners of that area to reimburse the governmental entity for all, or part, of the costs it incurred in completing the project. Each property parcel receiving the benefit is assessed a proportionate share of the cost which may be paid in full, or apportioned over a period of up to 20 years.

What is a betterment?

A betterment is a specific type of public improvement undertaken by the City of Boston Public Works Department. The laying out of and construction of new streets and upgrading of sidewalks are considered betterments. Repaving or replacing streets, sidewalks and sewers are NOT considered betterments.

Why am I being billed?

State law allows the City to assess the cost of a betterment to affected taxpayers. Usually, properties that abut the betterments are assessed. For each betterment, a lien that specifies the estimated amount of assessment for each affected property had been filed with the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.

How are betterments determined?

Individual assessments are based on the overall cost of the betterment and parcel-specific factors such as length of frontage and the land area of the parcel.

The assessed owner had up to six months to petition the Public Improvements Commission for an abatement.

What are the payment options?

You may pay the bill within thirty days without penalty.

Payments should be made to the City of Boston and mailed ONLY to the following address:

City of Boston
Office of the Collector-Treasurer
P. O. Box 9711
Boston, MA 02114

After thirty days, interest will accrue on any unpaid balance at the rate of seven (7) percent per year. Beginning with the next fiscal year (July 1 - June 30) the unpaid balance will be added to your annual Third Quarter property tax bill (issued in late December) as a special assessment. The special assessment, plus interest, will be spread over a ten-year period. You have the option to spread out the payments over a longer period of time, up to twenty years. To do so, contact the City of Boston Assessing Department before November 1.

Do you have any additional questions?

For questions regarding abatement or how your tax bill was determined, contact the Public Improvement Commission:

Phone: 617-635-4960

More Information about the Public Improvements Commission

For all other questions, contact the Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center (TRAC):

Online: Contact the Taxpayer Referral and Assistance Center
Phone: 617-635-4287


Additional Resources