When are town bills due?

March 9, 2023

Excise Tax bills arrived a couple of weeks ago in the mailboxes of residents with motor vehicles and trailers registered to their Bedford address. The bills are due to be paid in a couple of weeks. Residents may question when and what bills (and other envelopes needing responses) arrive from the Town to resident mailboxes. 

Excise Tax (due mid-March)

Excise Tax bills are sent out each year in mid-February, and as outlined by the state, are due 30 days later (mid-March). If a new car registration happens due to a purchase or change in registration during the year, a new bill will be generated off-cycle at a prorated rate for the year, and billing will start again in February. 

  • Excise Tax is required and set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an annual tax based on the value of motor vehicles and trailers registered in the state. The current rate is $25 for every $1,000 of value. Massachusetts calculates the value as a percentage of the manufacturer’s list price based upon the age of the vehicle or trailer. Each town or city is responsible for levying (which here means to bill and collect) the excise tax from residents. The revenue from the collected tax goes into the general operating budget of the town. 
  • Exemptions for disabled residents or current service members may be available. 
  • Town Excise Tax information including FAQs: https://www.bedfordma.gov/182/Excise-Tax
  • State Excise Tax information: https://www.mass.gov/guides/motor-vehicle-excise

If you did not receive your bill, cannot find your bill, or have questions about the bill or exemptions, call the Assessor’s Office at 781-275-0046 during office hours. 

To pay your bill, send a check with the tax year and bill number to the address on the bill, or use UniPay from the bedfordma.gov website.  You will need your bill number to use Unipay and some additional fees will occur based on payment method. 

Property Tax (due Quarterly)

Property Tax Bills are sent out quarterly/four times per year: 

  • Sent by Jan. 1 and due Feb. 1 
  • Sent by April 1 and due May 1
  • Sent by July 1 and due Aug. 1
  • Sent by Oct. 1 and due Nov. 1

The property tax rate is based on the amount of money the town has approved to raise at Town Meeting, the revenue the Town is expected to receive in a year, and the total valuation of all taxable property. The amount due is calculated at an amount per $1,000 in assessed value with a different tax rate for residential and commercial property. Property values can be found online at the Assessor’s database. https://www.bedfordma.gov/715/Assessors-Database 

Any questions on assessments, abatements, or exemptions can be made to the Board of Assessors Office at 781-275-0046. 

Many residents may have property tax set up to pay through escrow accounts with their mortgage provider. Otherwise, bills can be paid via check (mailed using instructions on the bill, dropped off 24/7 in the drop box at the front entrance to Town Hall, or handed to the Collector’s Office staff), online payment through bedfordma.gov, or even via cash at the Collector’s Office on the second floor of Town Hall (10 Mudge Way). Questions on property tax billing or payments can be addressed to the Collector’s Office at 781-275-1517. 

Water/Sewer Bill (currently twice per year)

Residents receive a bill every six months (in six different cycles depending on account number). This will soon change to quarterly billing.

Bedford is a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Part of the water and sewer assessment is set by the MWRA with a final rate set by each MWRA community. Usage is measured through town-owned meters on properties (and some properties may have privately owned meters used for outdoor only/non-sewer use set to an irrigation rate). The meter reading is used to calculate the bill amount. 

Water bills can be paid through similar methods as Property Tax (via check dropped off or mailed, online at bedfordma.gov, or cash dropped off to the Collector’s Office staff).

Town Census

The Town Census does not have a payment attached, but is an envelope sent to residents from the Town Clerk annually that needs a timely response. The Town Census is mailed the first week in January, and again in March for those who haven’t responded. The Town Clerk’s office requests residents to return the forms within 10 days of receipt. 

Responding to the census is useful to not only the town, but also to individuals for many reasons including providing proof of residency allowing access to Town services, voting, estimating school projections and budgeting, elderly and veteran benefits, and information for first responders. 

Check with the Town Clerk for questions about the census 781-275-0083. 

Dog Licenses (annually or multiyear)

Dog license renewals are mailed to residents at the end of May with a due date of Aug. 31. Renewals received in September are subject to a $5 fine, and renewals received after Oct. 1 are subject to a $25 fine. There is an option to pay for a multi-year license which ends up costing less on a per-year basis.

All dogs are required to be licensed and vaccinated in Bedford. Dog licenses ensure that dogs are immunized against rabies, as well as providing a record for missing dogs or dogs that may become a danger or nuisance.  

Dog registration forms and information can be found at https://www.bedfordma.gov/280/Dog-Licenses.

Payments can be made online at Bedfordma.gov or through the Clerk’s office during office hours. 

For dog license application information, questions, or dog license payment information contact the Town Clerk at 781-275-0083.

Other Envelopes 

There may also be regular permit/license renewals on different timelines for individuals or businesses. Utility bills (like gas, oil, and electric) are generally contracted to private utility companies by individual residences and paid separately (they don’t come from or through the town). The town mails the Town Warrant and election information prior to Town Elections and Town Meeting and other notifications that do not require a response. 

Thanks to Charlie Ticotsky, Special Assistant to the Town Manager, for the timeframes information. 

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