Taxpayer Fails to Overcome “Presumption of Correctness”

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
10 Dec 2013

Another New Jersey property owner learned the hard way that reducing a property tax assessment may not be as easy as it seems.  In Stransky v. Township of Howell, the owner filed an appeal from a Monmouth County Tax Board judgment which had affirmed the 2012 assessment on a 13 acre farm containing a single-family residence.

Neither party presented any expert testimony in the matter.  Rather, the property owner relied upon three comparable sales as being indicative of the fair market value.  He suggested that the sales prices of the comparables, together with the negative location of the subject – near a bridge and subject to heavy commercial traffic – warranted a reduction in the $226,000 total assessment to $180,000.

Two of the owner’s comparables were identified as “nonusable” on the assessor’s records under category 26, the “catch-all” category.  While the Tax Court noted that such a categorization does not automatically prohibit the consideration of such sales as comparables, the circumstances of the sale needed to be thoroughly researched and the owner did not establish why they were reliable indicators of value.  This failure, along with the owner’s general failure to  overcome the “presumption of correctness” of the assessment, MSGW Real Estate Fund, LLC v. Borough of Mountain Lakes, 18 N.J. Tax 364, 373 ( Tax Ct. 1998),  led the Tax Court to affirm the County Tax Board’s judgment in Stransky.