How to Appeal Your New Jersey Property Tax Assessment

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
14 Oct 2018

appeal property tax njProperty owners in New Jersey typically receive their final tax bills each year in July or August.  This causes many to evaluate their property tax burden and to determine if they can save money by filing a property tax appeal.  Although many property owners may believe that their property tax assessments are set in stone, the truth is that property taxes are not fixed expenses. Tax assessments hinge on the assessor’s calculation of the market value of a property, and it is often the case that such calculations are inaccurate or not reflective of current market value. Property taxes are major revenue generators for New Jersey municipalities, and successful tax appeals may create opportunities for hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings. New Jersey already has the highest property taxes in the country—why pay more than your fair share when rates are so high?

1. Understand Your Local Procedures

Filing for a property tax appeal requires strict adherence to governmental policies and deadlines. In New Jersey, appeals generally must be filed on or before April 1st, or within 45 days of the mailing of the Assessment Notice (Monmouth County appeals must be filed with the County Tax Board by January 15th). In areas where a municipal-wide reassessment has been performed, the deadline is May 1st. After the appeal is filed, a hearing in front of the County Tax Board is scheduled. It’s crucial to be compliant with state deadlines and procedures in order for your tax appeal to be successful.

2. Recognize the Need for an Appeal

Before you challenge your property tax assessment, you should determine whether your property is over-assessed. Not every municipality assesses its properties at 100% of true value and it is important to be familiar with the applicable ratio in effect for each tax year. Sometimes, appeals become a matter of timing, since a majority of municipalities re-assess property every three to five years. You should review your assessment every year.

3. Determine the Grounds for Your Appeal

After you decide to move forward with filing your appeal, the next step is to gather evidence to support it. It’s important to present the Tax Board with concrete reasons why you believe your property is over-assessed. Did the assessor list your property at a greater square footage than it actually has? Are you being assessed based on a vibrant real estate market when in reality your area is experiencing an economic downturn? Regardless of the reason, it’s essential to provide support if you want to claim that your property is overly taxed. Sales of comparable properties are usually the best evidence for a property’s value, although other methods are available for investment properties or special purpose properties.

4. Seek the Guidance of an Experienced Property Tax Appeal Attorney

While the guidelines above provide a basic outline of the process, tax appeals can be complicated and each case presents its own intricacies. From advising on the timing of appeals to contributing expert knowledge about local real estate markets, an experienced tax appeal attorney can help you navigate through the specifics of each individual case.

The author acknowledges the assistance of John Oettinger, a summer intern at McKirdy & Riskin, in preparing this article.  Mr. Oettinger is a member of the Class of 2018 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.