Montclair Tax Assessment: Might be Wrong, But Not In Error

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
22 Aug 2011

Property Owner Incorrectly Argues for Refund Under Correction of Errors Statute Following Revaluation

A taxpayer alleged that he had been overcharged for property taxes following a 2007 revaluation. The taxes increased on one unit he owned in a two-unit condominium in Montclair following the revaluation, and he alleged his land value was too high because the assessor mistakenly failed to divide the land portion of the assessment between the two owners, and used an incorrect acreage factor.  Montclair countered that the tax assessor used his judgment and discretion to determine the proper land value.

The taxpayer’s complaint was dismissed after the parties moved for summary judgment.  The taxpayer argued that the assessor made a clerical error in calculating the wrong land value, so a refund was due under the correction of errors statute, N.J.S.A. 54:4-54.  Montclair disagreed.  The Appellate Division agreed with Montclair and the Tax Court judge by finding that refunds were only proper when there are duplicate assessments on one parcel, an assessment intended for one parcel is mistakenly placed upon another, or one person mistakenly pays the tax on another property instead of his own.  The Appellate Division found the claim to be a challenge to the assessment and not a clerical error, so the correction of errors statute did not apply.

For more articles discussing revaluations, please see the following:

N.J. towns reassess property values after housing market drop – Star-Ledger

Mercer orders property revaluation in four towns – Trenton Times

Paying the Piper in Maplewood – Wall Street Journal

The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Cory K. Kestner, Esq., of McKirdy & Riskin, PA, in the preparation of this article.