Taxpayer’s Challenge to Re-Assessment Out of Time

by: Richard De Angelis
30 Nov 2009

Bear’s Nest Condo. Ass’n v. Bergen County Bd. of Taxation, 2009 N.J. Tax LEXIS 26 (October 19, 2009) (Approved for Publication in New Jersey Tax Court Reports).  In this matter, plaintiff, a condominium association, sued county tax board and borough, appealing the board’s approval of a re-assessment of all condominium units in the borough, including all units in plaintiff’s complex. The re-assessment was initiated pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:4-23 and, in particular, the amendment to that statute enacted as P.L. 2001, c. 101 (commonly known as “Chapter 101”), which authorizes the re-assessment of all or part of the taxable real property within a taxing district. The statute requires an assessor who wishes to conduct a full or partial re-assessment to first obtain the approval of the county tax board. In this case, the tax board approved the re-assessment in December 2005. The affected unit owners received notice of the re-assessment and the revised assessment, required under N.J.S.A. 54:4-38.1 (commonly known as the “Chapter 75 Notice”) by February 1, 2006 so that the time for filing an appeal challenging the assessment on any re-assessed unit ran through Monday, April 3, 2006. On March 8, 2006, the tax board rejected a request by plaintiff and individual unit owners to set aside the new assessments. Plaintiff filed its complaint on April 17, 2006. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint as out of time. Plaintiffs argued that the time within which to seek judicial review of county board actions is 45 days and as such, their action was filed on time. The Tax Court held that when the board denied plaintiff’s request to restore the assessments, it was not taking formal action. By then, the board had already approved the Chapter 101 plan. The new assessments had been disclosed in the Chapter 75 notices and had been included in the tax list. As no assessments were changed after the Chapter 75 notice, the time to appeal ran from the date of the initial notice, which in this case was April 3, 2006.  Accordingly, the taxpayer’s claim was denied.