With New Jersey ranked first for the highest property taxes in the US, many homeowners feel they are being taxed unfairly and are seeking to appeal their tax assessments.
In order to successfully challenge the taxable value of a property, New Jersey tax law requires homeowners establish one of the following facts:
• The tax assessor relied on information that is incorrect or incomplete. For example, the assessor may have assumed that your home contains 3,550 square feet of space when it actually has only 2,500 square feet.
• The tax assessor set the taxable value of your home that is higher than the taxable values of similar homes in your community.
• The tax assessor assumed that the current market value of your home is higher than it actually is.
If you’re convinced that any of these facts is true, consider the following strategy for trying to get your taxable value reduced.
Confer With the Tax Assessor
If you have convincing evidence that the tax assessor has overvalued your home, he or she may agree to change the value. If that happens, you won’t need to pursue a formal tax appeal. In most New Jersey communities, you can get contact information for your tax assessor by phoning your municipal government office. Most municipalities post contact information online.
Most tax assessors are hard-working officials who take pride in their work, and do their best to treat homeowners fairly. It’s best to phone ahead for an appointment with the tax assessor or an assistant. Before your meeting, make extra copies of your evidence, such as tax assessor reports, related to the value of your home. When you meet, assume that the tax assessor is acting in good faith and is willing to consider your evidence. There’s no need for you to be argumentative or to complain about how property taxes have become burdensome. Just stick to evidence that warrants a lower taxable value for your home.
The tax assessor may change the taxable value on the spot but, more likely, will need a few days or weeks to look into the issue.
Pursue An Appeal
If you can’t reach agreement with the tax assessor, you can appeal the valuation. Here’s where to appeal and useful evidence for doing so.
Where to Appeal
You can appeal your home valuation by petitioning your county’s tax board. File your NJ tax appeal by April 1 or within 45 days after the tax assessor mails you an assessment notice – whichever is later. If the assessor has re-assessed your entire community, the filing deadline is May 1. Call the tax assessor’s office for details on what paperwork you need to submit and the deadline for such submissions.
There will be a hearing where your evidence will be considered. If you have evidence regarding comparable properties, you must submit copies at least seven days before the hearing. And if you plan to rely on an appraiser’s findings, you must submit copies of the appraisal report at least seven days before the hearing – and the appraiser must attend the hearing.
Tip: If your home is assessed for more than $1 million, you can bypass the county Tax Board and appeal directly to the New Jersey Tax Court. If you go that route, retain an experienced real lawyer to assist you.
Useful Evidence for Your Appeal
In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:
• a recent appraisal of your home
• a contractor’s report showing repair work needed on your home and how much the work will cost
• documents showing actual sales prices in your neighborhood, and
•photographs of homes similar to yours, together with a list of their sales prices or taxable values.
At the hearing, you’ll probably have just five or ten minutes to present your case, so be succinct. Bring extra copies of your documentary evidence so that each hearing officer has a copy. Try to include a chart showing comparative sales prices and taxable values. You may want to arrive early so that you observe – and learn from – other people’s hearings.
Consider Asking a Court to Review the Tax Board’s Decision
If you don’t agree with the decision on your administrative appeal, you can go to the New Jersey Tax Court for a further review. The filing deadline is 45 days from when the Tax Board mailed its decision. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise or represent you if you plan to go to court.
To find an experiences tax attorney in New Jersey, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.
Learn More About Tax Appeals in New Jersey
For more information on tax appeals in New Jersey, go to http://bit.ly/1MqW7sH