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Taxes
Property Tax Assessments
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In the coming weeks, homeowners will be receiving their property tax assessments and property tax bill for 2018. Your property taxes are based on your town’s assessment of your home’s value. With the volatility in the housing market over the past few years, it’s possible that your home may be worth less than your town’s assessment of your home. You may be able to reduce your property taxes if you can show that your home’s value is less than your town’s assessed value.

To begin the process of understanding your home’s value, it’s a good idea to start by talking to a local realtor. Ask your realtor if they can give you a listing of comparable housing sales—houses that have sold in your area that are similar to yours. For the purposes of a tax assessment appeal, you can only use comparable sales within the pre-tax year from September 30 through October 1. So for example, if you are appealing this year, you can use home sales from September 30, 2016 through October 1, 2017. Based on these comparable sales, your realtor can give you an idea of how much your house is worth.

Then, with the information you have gotten from your realtor, prepare Form A-1 Comp. Sales—Comparable Sales Analysis Form (from The New Jersey Division of Taxation). You can get this form from your local tax assessor. This form will also help you better understand your home’s value and help you prepare to either speak with your local tax assessor or file an appeal of your assessment.

After evaluating your home’s worth, if you believe that your home’s true value is less than its assessed value, speak with the tax assessor in your town. It’s best to call ahead to see if you need to make an appointment to speak to the tax assessor. With the information that you have, you may be able to convince your tax assessor that your home has been overvalued.

If the tax assessor doesn’t agree with you and is not willing to change your assessment, you may appeal the tax assessor’s decision. Contact your County Board of Taxation and ask for the forms to file a property tax appeal. You can also obtain these forms and information from your tax assessor and on-line (See A Guide to Tax Appeal Hearings (from The New Jersey Division of Taxation)). This form must be filed with the County Board of Taxation by April 1 or within 45 days of the bulk mailing of assessment notices. (There is an exception if you live in Monmouth County or if a municipal-wide reassessment has been implemented. Check with your tax assessor or County Board of Taxation to confirm the date by which you must file your appeal.)

When you file your appeal, you must be up to date with your property taxes. There is a filing fee based on your home’s value. For homes worth $150,000 or less, the filing fee is $5. For homes worth more than $150,000 but less than $500,000, the filing fee is $25. Homes worth more than $500,000 but less than $1,000,000 will have a fee of $100. The fee for homes over $1,000,000 is $150.

Once you have prepared and filed these forms with the County Board of Taxation, you will be notified of a hearing date and time. At the hearing, the town attorney will represent your town. You may have an attorney represent you, but you may also represent yourself. The town assessor may appear at the hearing to testify as an expert regarding your house’s value. You also may have an expert testify to your home’s value. If you decide to have an expert testify at your hearing, you must submit a copy of the expert’s appraisal report for the assessor and for each County Tax Board member at least seven days prior to your hearing.

At the hearing, the burden is on you to prove that your assessment is incorrect. The most credible evidence you will have is evidence of comparable sales. You may submit additional information about comparable sales up to seven days prior to the hearing. Be prepared to explain to the Board members those aspects of your home that are similar to the homes that you have selected and to argue why their sale price is in indication of the value of your home. For example, do the other homes have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Is your home on the same size lot? Does your home have a deck like the other homes?

There are also other things that may impact a home’s value. If you want to argue that there is something that has a negative impact on your home, you must provide evidence. For example, if your deed has restrictions that limit how your property can be used or what can be built on your property, you will have to show proof of the restrictions. Again, anything that you intend to rely on during the hearing must be submitted to the town assessor and to the members of the Board seven days before the hearing.

The County Board of Taxation must hear and determine all appeals within three months of the last day for filing appeals. Judgments will be issued after the Board’s determination. If your appeal is denied, you may appeal further to the Tax Court in New Jersey. This appeal must be filed within 45 days from the date your judgment was mailed. Information on filing such an appeal can be found at the New Jersey Court's Forms Search Database. (Keywords: "Property Tax." Customer: "Self Representation").

Other helpful resources for preparing for your property tax appeal can be found at the Department of Treasury’s website. See A Guide to Property Tax Appeals in New Jersey and How Property Is Valued for Property Tax Purposes (from The New Jersey Division of Taxation). Some County Boards of Taxation have their own guides. Make sure to check with your County Board of Taxation by going online or calling.​

3/8/2018