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The Tax Assessorís office is located in Room 115 of City Hall. This office can assist you on-line with detailed information on real estate and personal property tax assessments and property tax maps. The assessor's office also keeps track of ownership changes, maintains maps of parcel boundaries, keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date, keeps track of individuals and properties eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief and analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to estimate the value of all assessable property.
In 2012, the total value of taxable property in Portland is approximately $7.49 billion, which generates over $140 million in property tax revenue to fund the operation of Maineís largest city. The Assessorís department maintains tax records on approximately 22,400 real estate accounts, 4,000 business personal property accounts and 481 tax maps.
Both real estate (land and buildings) and personal property (tangible goods) are subject to taxation, unless they are exempted by law or subject to another form of taxation, such as the excise tax for motor vehicles and boats. Since home furnishings are largely exempt from personal property taxes, the property tax bill for most Maine homeowners is based on the value of the land, the house and the outbuildings.
Property taxes are levied according to a mill rate. The mill rate is the dollars/cents per $1,000 of value that you will pay in property taxes. For example, if you own a home valued at $100,000 and the tax rate is 20 mills, then your tax bill will be $2,000 (or $20 x 100).
Real Estate Taxes
Among the documents maintained by the department are real property records, property maps, ownership records and sales information. Use our on-line database to search real property listings in Portland.
The assessor is required by law to "ascertain as nearly as may be the nature, amount and value as of the first day of April of the real estate and personal property subject to be taxed." This means that if on the 1st day of April you own property that is subject to taxation, then you are liable to pay those taxes to your municipality.
The Maine Constitution says that property shall be assessed at its "just value." The courts have interpreted "just value" to mean fair market value or in other words "what the property is worth." A propertyís worth is commonly looked at as "what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller" for a particular piece of property. For more information visit our helpful on-line section on how property is appraised.
To implement the constitutional requirement that real estate be assessed at its "just value," and in recognition of the tremendous difficulty and costs to a municipality to maintain a "just value" assessment, the Maine Legislature enacted assessing standards that municipalities must meet. One standard is that the total local valuation of taxable property should not fall below 70% of fair market value. Another standard is that the quality ratings of assessments not exceed 20 (which basically mean that the difference in valuation between similar properties should never be greater than 20%).
Revaluations are commonly used when a community falls below the assessing standards. During a revaluation, all property in the municipality is reviewed and assessments are adjusted to their fair market value.
Personal Property Taxes
Personal Property Taxes are levied against furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment of business property owners. The tax rate is the same rate as applied to taxable real estate. A Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program (BETR), administered by the State, is available to any business taxpayer placing eligible personal property into service after April 1, 1995. Qualified property is eligible for reimbursement for up to 12 years. The reimbursement is scaled back for the remainder of the time the property remains taxable.
Additionally, the legislature has created Business Equipment Tax Exemption Program (BETE) for qualifying equipment that is placed in service on of after April 1, 2008. Check the "Tax Relief" tab for additional information.
Records on nearly 1300 tax exempt real estate accounts are maintained by the Assessor. Eligibility for exempt status is dictated by State statute. Categories include incorporated religious organizations, benevolent and charitable institutions, literary and scientific institutions, and property owned by federal, state and local government.