Another Contract Purchaser Wins Right to Pursue Tax Appeal

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
19 Dec 2013

The New Jersey Tax Court recently held that a contract purchaser had standing to prosecute its tax appeal.  The facts are plain and uncomplicated.  In February 2012, plaintiff entered into a purchase agreement with the property owner that was eventually signed by both parties on March 29, 2012, although the closing did not occur until November 7, 2012.  Plaintiff timely filed an appeal with the Middlesex County Board of Taxation on April 2, 2012.  On June 19, 2012, plaintiff’s attorney received a notice that the matter had been dismissed following a hearing on May 25, 2012.  Plaintiff filed an appeal to the Tax Court, and the City filed its motion a year later.

The City moved to dismiss the appeal arguing that the Tax Court lacked jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:51A-1 because the County Board dismissed plaintiff’s petition for lack of prosecution after failing to appear at the May 2012 hearing. The City additionally argued that plaintiff was not an aggrieved taxpayer at the time the petition was filed.  The court found that the City failed to provide proof that plaintiff or his counsel received notice of the county board hearing, while the plaintiff and his attorney both provided certifications stating they had not received notice of the hearing.  Additionally, relying on the New Jersey Appellate Division’s recent unpublished opinion in Omega Self Storage of NJ, LLC, v. Twp. of Lawrence, the court noted the low burden established for qualifying as a “taxpayer aggrieved by the assessed valuation” for purposes of N.J.S.A. 54:3-21, and that the Appellate Division in that matter found a contract purchaser as “aggrieved” under facts similar to those here.

A copy of the Tax Court’s opinion in Steven D. Stankovits v. City of South Amboy may be found here.

For more blog posts on standing to file an appeal, please see the following:

Appellate Court: Contract Purchasers Have Standing to File Tax Appeal

NJ Supreme Court: Failure to Name Correct Plaintiff Not Fatal to Tax Appeal

Tenant Entitled to Tax Refund, But No More

Tax Court Clarifies Taxpayers’ Need to Pay Property Taxes While Under Appeal