2015 New Jersey Real Estate Tax Assessments and Appeals

Many commercial, industrial and multi-occupancy property owners in New Jersey continue to face economic challenges due to ever increasing taxes and the increasing costs of doing business, all the while faced with decreased rental incomes, greater vacancy rates, increased expenses, and other income  issues. In some cases, property valuations and resulting assessments may also be affected by environmental hazards and pollution, impacts from natural disasters as well as other use and utility issues. However, the same problems that undesirably influence a property's value can serve as a basis for a successful real estate tax assessment appeal.  

Assessors for each town are required to notify taxpayers by mail of their 2015 assessment on or before February 1, 2015. A property owner who disagrees with an assessment may appeal the 2015 property tax assessment. This must be filed by April 1, unless a town-wide revaluation or reassessment has occurred, in which case the deadline is May 1. Appeal Petitions are brought before the County Board of Taxation, unless the property assessment exceeds $1,000,000, where the New Jersey Tax Court can have jurisdiction, should the property owner or taxpayer choose that forum. 

Property tax assessments can be calculated in various manners. Typically, the assessment amount will be the assessor's estimate of the fair market value of the property, then adjusted by the average ratio of the assessed value to the fair market value of other similar properties in the town. The average ratio adjustment is a determination made by the State Director of Taxation.. As of October 1, if a town-wide revaluation or reassessment has occurred, the assessment will be the assessor's estimate of the fair market or true value of the property. In considering whether to pursue a tax assessment appeal, a property owner must determine how the value of the property reflected in the assessment is calculated to ascertain whether there are grounds for an appeal. Most tax appeals are settled without the need for litigation. However, in the event that litigation is required due to a disparity between the town assessor and the property owner's estimate of the property’s fair market value, each party will obtain a formal appraisal before trial. Prior to a trial at the Tax Court level, the parties must participate in a settlement conference. The majority of tax appeals brought at both the County and Tax Court levels result in a settlement.

In order to evaluate your options with respect to a property tax assessment and/or a tax appeal, and the likelihood of a successful reduction in a property tax assessment, an attorney who specializes in real estate tax assessments and appeals should be consulted. If you decide to appeal an assessment and hire an attorney to assist you, legal services typically include preparing and filing the appeal petition, negotiating and prosecuting the appeal, and communicating with local assessors to obtain a fair and reasonable assessment in an efficient and expedited fashion. 

For questions, comments or additional information, please contact a member of Reger Rizzo & Darnall's Real Estate Team.