Tax Court to Parties: You’re Both Wrong

by: Thomas Olson
13 May 2021

Just like the NFL Draft, teams and their fans are excited about the possible players their respective franchises could pick to help bolster their chances of winning. Teams may want some players, while fans may want others. In the end, both the teams and their fans could be wrong about the player ultimately selected. Just like that chance, occasionally the Court determines both sides to be wrong as well.

In Schon et al. v Township of Middletown, the county tax board decided on an assessment value for the subject property between the plaintiff property-owner and defendant Middletown. The county tax board entered judgment in the amount of $695,000.00, less than the assessment of $770,200.00. The plaintiff sought to reduce the assessment to $650,000.00, while the defendant sought an assessment of $725,000.00. To justify their values, each side produced comparative sales values. In addition to a comparative sales value, the defendant used a “paired sales analysis” to adjust values between the subject property and the comparable properties. Judge Sundar, writing for the tax court, determined that neither party produced enough evidence to justify changing the county tax board’s assessment.

Judge Sundar found four of the five properties produced by the plaintiff were not comparable to the subject properties for a variety of reasons such as lot size, style of home, year built, and easements. Judge Sundar found the defendant’s comparable properties to fail as well since the defendant assessor used the same properties for multiple “paired sale analyses” adjustments and had also failed to inspect the interior of the sale properties, casting doubt as to whether the comparable properties were actually comparable. Therefore, since Judge Sundar was not persuaded by either party, the Tax Court upheld the county tax board’s judgment of $695,000.00.

If you would like to read the entire decision, please click here.

The author acknowledges the assistance of William Olson, a Law Clerk at McKirdy, Riskin, Olson & DellaPelle, in preparing this article. Mr. Olson is a member of the Class of 2021 at Rutgers Law School.