Tax Appeal Filing Deadline Upheld Again

by: Richard De Angelis
9 Jul 2012

In Shin v. Borough of Norwood, a New Jersey appellate court upheld the strict interpretation of the April 1st filing deadline for real property tax appeals.

A property owner attempted to file a tax appeal for the 2010 tax year with the Bergen County Board of Taxation on the April 1st filing deadline.  The property owner’s counsel hired a courier to deliver the filing to the Tax Board however; the courier was unable to get to the Board’s office by the 4:30 p.m. closing time.  As such, the tax appeal was not filed until the next business day, and the Board rejected it as untimely.  The property owner then filed a complaint with the Tax Court seeking a finding that the Bergen Tax Board should have accepted their tax appeals. The Tax Court granted the municipality’s motion to dismiss, which the owners appealed.

The appellate court upheld the Tax Court’s dismissal holding that the April 1 deadline is a statute of limitations in that it cuts off any further avenue for appeal of an adverse tax assessment. Moreover, the Court found that tolling the statute of limitations to allow the untimely filing would usurp the power designated to the Director of the Division of Taxation and the county boards to regulate the timely filing and processing of tax appeals. County tax boards are authorized to set their hours of operation pursuant to regulations adopted by the Division of Taxation.  The court also rejected the owner’s argument for the application of the square corners doctrine finding that no government action taken with the aim of gaining an advantage over the property owner.  The court did not find any misfeasance or nonfeasance by Board, but rather, that it simply followed its procedure of closing at 4:30 p.m.

This case upholds the normal strict construction of the April 1st filing deadline for property tax appeals in New Jersey.  In contrast, see the case below, where the court allowed a filing which got to the court on time, but was mistakenly delivered to the wrong office within the courthouse building itself.

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