Considerations In Filing A New Jersey Tax Appeal

Whenever discussing the tax appeal process, we must be mindful of the fact that what is being  challenged is the assessment and nnot the taxes themselves.  Since one is related to the other, however,  any decrease in the assessed valuation naturally corresponds to a lowering of the tax liability.

Another important fact to remember is that April 1 s the deadline for nearly all New Jersey tax appeals and d that the relevant values pertain to Oct. 1 of the previous year.  Failure to comply with these deadlines will assure a homeowner that their appeal will not succeed.

Anyone pursuing an assessment appeal must also understand that they are the ones who carry the burden of proof.  The property owner must persuade the tax board that his or her assessment is excessive or the result of an error due to a miscalculation in square footage or a lack of improvements to the property. A filing fee of $25.00 for any property assessed less than $150,000 -- or $150 for  those assessessed at $1m or more -- must also be paid.

Let us assume that a hypothetical property owner is looking to appeal th? assessment of his property.  He realizes the appeal needs to be filed at the county tax board and that he must do so by April 1st. He recognizes too that he must pay a filing fee.

Furthermore, the applicant knows he carries the burden of proof and that legally there exists an assumption his assessment is accurate. And, as he will soon discover, the tax assessor is allowed a cushion or margin or error,  which means he or she only has to be near the correct valuation for the assessment to remain unchanged.

Upon learning of the requirement in filing a property tax appeal nj,  many homeowners seek representation in their petition with an attorney -- though one not required.  However, if the property is owned by  a corporation or an LLC, an attorney is mandated.

It is worth reminding ourselves that it is the assessment being challenged and not the amount of taxes levied against the property. Because the actual tax collected by the muncipality reflects its financial needs, if all assessments were reduced, the township would merely increase the tax rate and the actual amount paid would remain unchanged.

We need to realize that the majority of property owners never appeal their property assessments and that many that do often fail to receive any settlement.  Knowing that, one needs to be confident they can prove an error was made in the calculation of the assessment.  Only being armed with these facts will the appeal  be worth the effort and cost.

If the town in which the property owner who is pursuing an appeal lives recently underwent a revaluation, it is likely the assessment is accurate.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Evaluations conducted in 2008 were proven to be inaccurate within 1 year and grew less accurate as the recession affected many New Jersey housing markets.  This is why it is important for the property owner to possess a copy of the most recent assessment and documentation showing the date of the last municipal evaluation that had occurred in his or her town.

In order to prove an assessment is excessive, the property owner needs to determine the assessed value of comparable properties in their town.  This can be done by reviewing the public records that are available online at New Jersey's Treasury and Taxation website. There are also other websites available where these records can be viewed as well.

The property owners will need to identify 3-5 comparable homes sales he or she can use to argue that his or her assessment is excessive.  Finding exact matches to the host property can often prove to be difficult. Remember, the sales must reflect the value on the previous October 1 so they cannot be too recent nor too old.

In order for a property to be considered comparable,  it needs to be the same size and possess the same qualities.  Significant difference  in either construction, style or age must be avoided.  The greater the selected properties differ in these aspects, the more likely they  will not be accepted as comparables.  Finding such comparable properties can be daunting, though the availibility of online records can make the task somewhat less onerous.  County clerk offices also will usually allow individuals to elctronically search real estate records, though it may require scheduling an appointment. Local realtors can also be a source of data since they have access to the database of sales maintained by the Multiple Listing Service. Above all, do not be tempted to rely on listings displaye in some popular Internet sites as only transations that have closed may be used.

Always be sure the transactions you select are classifies as useable sales. This means they must have occurred between parties unrelated to one another or the result of a distressed sale, such as a short sale or a foreclure.  The transaction also cannot be the result of an estate sale. In fact, the Department of Treasury has identified 33 categories of sales they deem as non-usable.   This list can be found at htt?://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pdf/plt/guidlines33.pdf.  Sales marked "NU," for non usable cannot be relied upon.

We mentioned previously that individul owners are not required to be represented by an attorney when appealing an assessment.. Hover it may be wise to consultwith one, especially if the potential assessment reduction seems significant.. Another person who should be considered is a licensed real estate appraiser. Such  an expert can interpret evidence found and present a strong argument to the commissioner hearing the appeal.

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