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Property Taxes
Property Taxation
There can be a shift of the tax burden among the property classes. Taxable property in Massachusetts falls under one or more of the following classifications: residential, open space, commercial, industrial, and personal property. Massachusetts communities may shift some of the residential tax burden onto the commercial, industrial, and personal properties by adopting a residential factor which creates a split tax rate.

Needham has a split tax rate, taxing commercial and industrial property at a higher rate than residential property. The split tax rate represents an $1,338 cost savings for the average residential property owner. In the fiscal year of 2016 Needham’s commercial properties ticked upward slightly in total value percentage, which caused a slight increase for those properties in terms of the percentage of the total tax burden they absorbed in relation to the residential properties.

The Board of Selectmen, in consultation with the Board of Assessors, voted to set the fiscal year of 2016 shift factor at 1.75, the maximum shift available for Needham. The shift factor was 1.75 in fiscal year 2015 as well. This means that for fiscal year 2016, commercial, industrial, and personal property, while representing just over 14% of the total taxable value, will pay just under 25% of the total taxes.

Benefits of the Two-tier Tax Rate
Since the implementation of the two-tier tax rate in 1988, the town and the residents have experienced significant benefits by shifting the tax burden to commercial property. However, because commercial properties are now a much smaller share of the town’s total property value, the ability of the commercial property to shoulder the tax burden has diminished. The town has been proactive in attempting to maintain a healthy commercial tax base, which generates stable tax revenues from businesses and enhances, rather than detracts, from the quality of life for Needham residents.

The ongoing revitalization of the Town’s commercial base continues, particularly after the re-zoning of the New England Business Center in 2002 and again in 2011. The former industrial park, recently christened as "Needham Crossing" is a vital component of Needham’s future ability to maintain the quality of services and broaden the tax base.

Recent commitments by several business entities to develop office, hospitality and high tech facilities in the business center assures the continuation of this trend.