Section 15 of Chapter 110 of the Acts of 1821, “An Act Establishing the City of Boston,” provided the City Council with the power to assess taxes. The same section provided for the election by the City Council, Mayor and Alderman, or by the citizens of Assessors and Assistant Assessors. Prior to 1854, the Assessors were located within the Treasury Department. Assessors, as well as, Assistant Assessors were chosen by concurrent vote of the City Council until 1885. In 1885, the power to appoint Assessors was transferred to the Mayor subject to confirmation by the Board of Aldermen. Chapter 93 of the Special Acts of 1918 reorganized the Assessing Department and created a Board of three Assessors appointed by the Mayor and subject to his removal.
The Assessing Department operates under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Assessing and is divided into three programs: Tax Administration, Valuation, and Abatement. The Department determines the fair cash value and classification of all real and personal property located in the city. The department maintains official maps, property description data, ownership records and assessment, abatement and exemption records.