The assessment of real estate for taxation is the main way NJ allocates the cost of local government among those who share in its benefits.The intent and goal of tax laws is (or at least should be) the equal distribution of that cost. However, no government system is, or can be, perfect. Some level of inequity is virtually inevitable.
If that is the case, which risk is preferable – the risk of compelling one individual to pay more than their fair share of taxes, or the risk that many people are paying a little more because an individual is paying something less than their fair share? Or put differently, do you favor the right of the individual to not pay more than their fair share, or the right of many?For many fundamental freedoms, the right of the
New Jersey law provides exemptions from property taxes for properties used for a wide variety of activities beneficial to society. A non-profit organization whose purpose is categorized as tax-exempt by New Jersey law may be eligible for a property tax exemption, provided the property is actually used for that purpose and the activity on the property is not conducted for profit.For example, exempt activities of a religious organization may include:
There is no minimum level of exempt activity re
Jersey City recently authorized its Tax Collector to mail out estimated property tax bills that include a significant rate increase. How significant? The rate was raised up to $1.889 per $100 of assessed value, from $1.604 per $100 in 2021. According to the Division of Taxation, the average residential assessment in Jersey City in 2021 was $461,925. At last year’s tax rate, that assessment would yield an annual tax bill of about $7,400. With the new tax rate, that same property owner would pay about $8,700 annually, an increase of about $1,300, or almost 18%! This will also hit homeowners hard this year, because the first two quarters are calculated based on the previous year’s taxes,
New Jersey tax assessors often send information requests to real estate owners in their town. These requests could look like anything from a form letter to a complex form. Regardless of the form, it asks for leasing information, expense details, and particularized property descriptions. Commonly called “Chapter 91” requests, responses to these requests are time-sensitive, can affect your right to appeal your property tax assessment, and should not be ignored. I’ve counseled clients on such requests many times during my 15 years of practice in this field. Accordingly, here are a few answers to some common questions about these requests. WHAT IS A CHAPTER 91 REQUEST? A Chapter 91 request is made by your local tax assesso
A classic spot assessment is the reassessment of a single recently-sold property that isn’t part of a larger scale reassessment or municipal-wide revaluation. It is Illegal! Spot assessments are illegal in New Jersey because the state constitution requires uniform treatment in taxation. In general, reassessments must be performed on all properties as part of a larger reassessment cycle, or else because a single property has been significantly improved upon, to comply with this constitutional requirement. However, when the assessor increases the assessments of only a handful of recently sold properties, he or she has violated this constitutional requirement, and you can seek relief from the increase. There are unscrupulous asses
By now, most every New Jersey real estate owner should have received their property tax assessment postcard. For some reason, if you have not received the postcard, or lost it, call your municipality for a replacement. The postcard tells you the assessed value of your property which is used to determine your property tax bill. This assessment can be wrong. And in New Jersey, every property owner (and some tenants) has the right to appeal their tax assessment. If your assessment is $1,000,000 or less in Monmouth County, it’s already too late - the January 15, 2022, filing deadline has already passed. But the deadline to file an appeal in most locations is April 1st
It’s that time of year again. If you haven’t already, you will be receiving your New Jersey Property Tax Assessment postcard from your local tax assessor. Keep an eye open for it – it looks something like this:
If you do not receive a postcard or misplace it, you can contact your municipality for a replacement.
What Does the Postcard Say?The postcard tells you the assessed value of your property. Your municipality calculates how much you owe in property taxes using your assessment and the local property tax rate. The assessment is just the local tax assessor’s opinion of your property’s value. Because many factors affect a property’s value, assessments can often be wrong. When the
As a New Jersey property tax appeal attorney, I spend significant time explaining the tax appeal process to clients. This blog is intended to answer some of the most common questions about appeals to the county Boards of Taxation, a.k.a. county tax boards. Appeals to New Jersey’s state Tax Court are different in some ways. Thus, we will address them in another blog post.
When do I have to file my property tax appeal?
For most of New Jersey, tax appeals must be filed on or before April 1 of the year on appeal, or within 45 days of the bulk mailing of assessment notices. However, the deadline is May 1 when there is municipal-wide revaluation or reassessment.
For counties participating in the “
To function, local governments collect property taxes from commercial property owners and homeowners within their borders. The amount of taxes a property owner pays depends on the assessed value of the property and the local tax rate. A tax assessment is an opinion of value from the local tax assessor. Because there are many factors that affect a property’s value, assessments can often be wrong. Consequently, the resulting assessment can be excessive or discriminatory.
Your assessment may be excessive or discriminatory if it meets one of these two standards:
Four New Jersey municipalities, a deputy tax assessor and a handful of individual taxpayers have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a recently-enacted law. The law grants hospitals a tax exemption in exchange for a direct per-bed payment to the municipality. This exemption is in lieu of traditional property taxes.
The case was filed in Mercer County Superior Court. However, Mala Sundar, Presiding Judge of the Tax Court, was temporarily transferred to the Superior Court. Understandably, the court desires expertise in taxation in this case. Thus, it triggered the Tax Court’s limited jurisdiction. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, with a hearing scheduled for mid-November.
The plaintiffs’ primary argument is tha
Most New Jersey tax appeals boil down to a classic battle of the experts. The taxpayer’s appraiser squares off against the municipal appraiser, and the Tax Court decides who has the better part of the argument. While that’s something of an oversimplification, it catches the essence of the trial. It also tends to some measure of predictability in the process, and facilitates settlement of many appeals. Still, there are cases that can’t be settled for one reason or another. If that’s the case, one of the most important decisions a tax appeal litigant will make is the choice of appraisal expert. If you hire someone unfamiliar with the dynamics of appraising for Tax Court or inexperienced as a testifying witness, you run the risk of putting your claim in serious jeopardy. E
What can we learn from yet another New Jersey Tax Court opinion rejecting a taxpayer’s assessment challenge? More than you might think.In Faber v. Toms River, a self-represented taxpayer challenged her assessment by pointing out discrepancies between the property and the property record card, and by testifying about three sales of similar homes in town. The property owner first argued that the property record card was wrong, and that both the size of the home and the lot were overstated. However, she attempted to prove the discrepancies through the testimony of the tax assessor, who had not set the assessment and was not subpoenaed to appear at trial. As a result, the assessor had little knowledge of the subject property, and the court found that the taxpaye
This is the long-delayed and final entry in this series of posts discussing cases published by the Tax Court of New Jersey during the first week of 2021. Much has happened since that time, but the cases are still relevant. Without any further ado…The third published Tax Court case involved the trial of a nursing home for seven tax years, Eagle Rock Convalescent Center v. Twp. of West Caldwell, Nos. 6780-08, 8154-09, 2089-10, 10834-11, 264-12, 868-13 & 5687-14 (Tax Court January 6, 2021). For those unfamiliar with the practice, each tax year is a separate, appealable event, and in the case of complex commercial properties (such as a nursing home) where large tax dollars may be at stake, it’s not unusual for the case to take many years to resolve. Seven years is def
Our second installment from the Tax Court’s busy first week of 2021 is a twist on an exemption opinion penned by Presiding Tax Court Judge Mala Sundar, P.J.T.C. The case, Township of Freehold v. Centrastate Healthcare Services, Inc., Nos. 000047-2016 & 000048-2016 (Tax Court January 5, 2021) marks further fallout from the Tax Court’s opinion in AHS Hospital v. Morristown, 28 N.J. Tax 456 (Tax 2015), though this time falling in the favor of the taxpayer. Let’s dig in a little to this one. First, a bit of history. The subject property was transferred to a for-profit entity in 2008, though still used as a clinic for indigent patients. The municipality filed an appeal from the “failure to impose” an omitted assessment for 2014 and 2015. The muni
While the rest of us were preoccupied with goings on elsewhere, the New Jersey Tax Court was quietly working away, bringing in 2021 with a trio of published decisions. The first, authored by Tax Court Judge Mary Siobhan Brennan, J.T.C., involved mutual appeals by taxpayer and municipality in 30 Journal Square Partners, LLC v. City of Jersey City, No. 009666-2020 (Tax Court December 30, 2020). In this case, the municipality filed its appeals in early June at the county tax board, and the taxpayer filed directly to Tax Court on the July 1 filing deadline. The taxpayer contacted the county board, requesting that the municipality’s appeals be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. While the municipality did not object to a dismissal, the City wanted the right to appeal fr
It’s been an interesting year for New Jersey real estate. Retail and office markets are hard hit by lockdowns and the introduction and ongoing appeal of remote work, and warehouse is the big winner with asking rents at an all time high. What about the residential market for first time homebuyers, or those with newfound freedom to move farther from a workplace? In a word: crazy.In prime areas, homes hitting the market are snapped up in days or even hours. Bidding wars are common if not the rule, and sellers have almost unilateral bargaining power in negotiating key contract provisions, such as home inspection, mortgage and appraisal contingencies. How does this translate into a property tax problem? Under normal circumstances, the sale of real property
In a recent case decided by the New Jersey Tax Court, a municipality asked for reconsideration of a decision reducing a commercial property’s assessment. The property in question was a mixed-use retail and warehouse building, with some mezzanine space in both the retail and warehouse areas. The main issue on reconsideration involved whether the Tax Court should have included the value-in-exchange of the mezzanine space value in the rent for gross leasable area, or given it a separate rent. Since there was no evidence of the value of the mezzanine, argued the municipality, the Tax Court had to affirm the assessment. The Tax Court rejected this argument, finding that the mezzanine space was properly included in the rental value of the main area. However, this is a case wh
On March 19, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting public health emergency, the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court entered an order extending the filing deadlines for 2020 property tax appeals with the County Boards of Taxation and the New Jersey Tax Court. Instead of April 1, 2020, the filing deadline has been extended to the *later* of either a) May 1, 2020, or b) 30 days after Governor Murphy declares and end to the state of emergency in effect under Executive Order 103. This order does *NOT* toll or extend the statute of limitations for deadlines that have already passed, e.g. the January 15th deadline for Monmouth County Board of Taxation appeals. The March 19th Order is accessible here:
It’s been a big week for taxpayers in New Jersey - three significant property tax cases came down from the courts in the last week. First, the Appellate Division granted a property tax exemption to the operators of an upscale restaurant on a university campus, reversing the Tax Court’s decision below granting summary judgment to the municipality. A published opinion involving a tax case is rare; one reversing the Tax Court even more so, so it’s worth taking notice. It’s interesting to see the Appellate Division balancing the interests between state higher education and the needs of local government. Next, the Tax Court re-affirmed the protections afforded by the Freeze Act, ruling that a sale of the property was not grounds for finding a change in value that would void
Both in the trial courts and in the appellate division, oral argument is an opportunity to marshal your best arguments, look the court in the eye and make the case why your client should prevail. However, in a time when it seems that every cost is closely scrutinized, is there still a place for a trip to court to say something already captured in writing? In short, yes. A recent published appellate decision affirmed both the explicit and implicit importance of oral argument. In this tax foreclosure action, the trial court denied a prior lienholder’s request for oral argument in opposition to a dispositive motion to enter final judgment. The trial judge denied the request with a one-sentence explanation, relying on an opinion involving a rule governing family matters. Th
Every year, owners of commercial and multifamily residential real estate in New Jersey may receive letters from their municipal assessors requesting income and expense information. These information requests, commonly called “Chapter 91” requests after the law authorizing them, are permissible and there may be consequences for failing to respond. The question becomes – how should a property owner respond to the tax assessor’s request for income and expense information?One important consideration is the potential consequences of ignoring the request. Failing to respond to a Chapter 91 request may result in a severe limitation on your ability to challenge the property’s tax assessment in the year after the request is made. This
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of a complaint seeking leave to impose omitted assessments on Riverview Medical Center, now owned by Meridian Health Corporation, in Red Bank, New Jersey. This unusual situation grows out of a 2015 Tax Court decision entitled AHS Hospital Corp v. Town of Morristown. In that case, an exempt hospital had its exemption revoked due to an alleged change in use and lost its challenge to the assessments imposed by the municipality thereafter. In this case, the municipality filed petitions at the county board of taxation, and later at the Tax Court, seeking to impose omitted assessments for 2014 and 2015. Notably, the petitions were filed after
The course to economic rent before New Jersey’s Tax Court seems straightforward, but taxpayers and municipalities alike continue to run aground on shoals both old and new. The recent decision in Burr Corporate Center, LLC v. Township of Westamption considered four years of appeals on a “flex (office/warehouse) complex consisting of two buildings totaling about 78,000 square feet.The taxpayer’s expert relied primarily on the subject leases, but failed to articulate the particulars of his analysis and had no market data to support his conclusion that the rents reflected the market. The Court rejected the argument that the subject’s rents should constitute the presumptive economic rent, as is assumed of the income derived from apartment build
New Jersey law requires drivers of motor vehicles to be in possession of their driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance while on the road. In the case of an insurance card, the law allows you to show the proof of insurance in “electronic form”, which includes showing an image of the card on a tablet, smart phone or laptop. Unfortunately, the exception only applies to your insurance card, so make sure you have your driver’s license and vehicle registration when driving. So, snap a picture of your insurance card or keep an electronic copy accessible on your smart phone. That picture may save you a trip to court and fines and costs of up to $200 or more!
At about 3:30 p.m. on March 31, the local property tax filing season is almost finished for the year. However, the door isn’t completely closed. Since April 1 falls on a Saturday this year, that means there is a weekend ahead, and last minute filers can scramble to get their petitions or complaints in on Monday, April 3, 2017.There are also many municipalities that have conducted reassessments or revaluations, where you can file an appeal as late as May 1, 2017. If you’re not sure about the deadline for your municipality, feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to check it for you. Of course, if you own property in Monmouth County, you have an entirely different situation. If your assessment is $1,000,000 or less, your chance to appeal for 2017 ended
N.J.S.A. 54:4-34, the statute commonly known as Chapter 91, is a tool in the municipal assessor’s repertoire to gather data to set assessments. If a taxpayer fails to respond properly, the appeal is subject to dismissal, subject only to a summary hearing to test the ‘reasonableness’ of the assessment, unless good cause is shown which excuses the taxpayer’s failure to provide the information in the time allotted by the statute. A recent case raises the question again of what does or does not constitute ‘good cause’ for failing to respond to the assessor’s information request.In Golden Eagle Foundation, Inc. v. Borough of Highland Park, an unpublished opinion issued on December 30, 2016, the Tax Court questioned whether ‘good