What is abatement? Definition and examples

Abatement in legal, business or financial situations refers to the lessening, reduction, or ending of something. Moreover, it is something unpleasant or undesirable.

The verb – to abate – means to become less intense, as in: “The storm suddenly abated.”

Abatement of Debts and Legacies is a common law doctrine of wills. It dictates that when the equitable assets of somebody who has died are not enough to satisfy all the creditors fully, their debts ‘must abate proportionally’. Consequently, creditors must accept a proportional amount of the deceased person’s estate. In other words, they should not expect all their money back.

Tax abatement

Also known as a tax holiday, it is the temporary elimination or reduction of tax. An abatement may occur after a natural disaster such as a devastating earthquake, flood, or hurricane.

Governments sometimes introduce it to encourage economic development. Some cities introduce property tax abatement to homeowners. Property taxes represent a significant expense to people who own their own homes.

In the rich economies, they typically represent between 1% and 3% of the property’s value each year.

Tax abatement – local economy

By doing away with property taxes, some residents who had not qualified for a mortgage will have a better chance of gaining approval. For the same reason, some will purchase larger properties.

This type of temporary tax reduction/elimination also helps sell homes more quickly. Consequently, the construction industry starts to expand.

The city manager hopes that economic growth due to the tax break will more than make up for the loss of revenue in property tax. Their logic is that when the economy grows overall tax revenues rise.

Abatement in commerce

The term may refer to a reduction in how much tenants have to pay for rent.

In a business contract, if one of the parties does not meet a deadline, they could be liable for a penalty. In this context, the term means a reduction of the penalty.

Abatement has to do with anything that reduces the amount of money a party has to pay.

Abatement of action

In a legal proceeding, abatement is a suspension, the aim being to save time and expense. This may occur if the plaintiffs cannot maintain the suit in its original form. The plaintiff is the person bringing the action against another in court. If the plaintiff still cannot maintain the suit, the judge will terminate the action.

Asbestos Abatement

The term asbestos abatement refers to procedures to control asbestos. It also refers to the elimination or reduction of fiber release from materials that contain asbestos.

The asbestos may exist in a building by encasement, encapsulation, repair, enclosure, operations and maintenance programs, or removal.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word abatement in the English language emerged in the British Isles in the middle of the 14th century. When it first appeared, it meant ‘act or state of being decreased or mitigated.’ It came from Old French Abatement, meaning ‘reduction, overthrowing.’

The Old French verb Abatre meant ‘reduce, strike down.’ In the 1520s, the noun assumed the legal sense of ‘destruction or removal of a nuisance, etc.’

Noise abatement 

According to the OECD glossary of statistical terms: “Noise abatement is an activity to reduce the emission of noise or vibrations from a given source, or to protect persons and built—up structures from exposure to noise and vibrations.”