2007 property tax bill estimates were sent out, last week.

The press was all over it, because a lot of people’s tax bills are going up. It seems ironic to the average reporter, because of all the talk of a slower real estate market. Of course, even now, as of today, prices of downtown condos have only dropped 2-3% (I don’t know), so to say that assessed values should go down, because sales prices have gone down, is specious.

The property tax rates were set based on a condo’s value as of January 1, 2006, based on sales data from 2005, so rates are still not reflecting the still-booming market of last year (in sales prices, if not sales volume).

I understand people’s concerns over higher tax bills. I also know it’s easy and sometimes unfair to throw darts at rich people.

However, let’s do it, anyway.

From the Herald:

The city’s average tax bill is poised to increase 11 percent this year …

Behind the jump in tax bills was an overall increase in the value of the city’s residential tax base, which swelled by 14 percent.

That has left some, like, Stephen Wintermeier, a Back Bay financial consultant and a community activist, fuming. The assessment on his Commonwealth Avenue condo leaped from $675,000 to $896,000.

His tax bill, meanwhile, jumped to more than $8,000 a year, up from $6,100 last year. The increases have not been matched by any marked improvement in city services, with the taxes on his condo at a much more modest $2,100 when he bought it in 1993, Wintermeier contends.

So, I took a look at the public record, to see what I could find out.

On the City of Boston’s assessing website, we can see a bunch of information about Mr. Wintermeier’s condominium home.

He lives at 148 Commonwealth Ave. Yes, the assessed value of his home is now $896,000 and last year it was $658,000. That’s a steep climb.

Why did it go up so much?

Comparable sales, most likely.

There have been sales in his building in access of $1,000,000, for homes with the same (presumably) layout as his, with 1390 square feet. Unit #401, upstairs, was sold for $1, 275,000, in 2004.

Here’s a picture of his neighbor’s home, from MLS.

Nice!

There is actually a unit on the market right now, in the building, listed in excess of $850 / square foot. Do the math, and Mr. Wintermeier’s home is worth more than a million dollars, easily.

The contrary to his argument is true – in fact, he’s been underpaying what he should be!

This, of course, doesn’t mean our taxes should be as high as they are.

Mr. Wintermeier (the “community activist”) writes about the perceived inequality between residential and commercial property tax rates, in a story in the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay’s (NAGG) newsletter.

More: Under at-tax! Homeowners face massive increase – By Scott Van Voorhis, The Boston Herald

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