Process for Residential Property Tax Appeals

Process for Residential Property Tax Appeals

If you are over-assessed and you are paying too much in property taxes, you can do nothing, which means you will keep overpaying.  Or you can appeal your taxes, which is an easy, inexpensive process when you use a reputable, experienced attorney.  Our attorneys have a history of significant success helping New Jersey taxpayers lower their taxes through tax appeals.

We can help, and this is how.

The Assessment

You will get notice of the assessment at the beginning of each year.  It normally comes through the regular mail on a postcard-sized notice.  Be careful – this is an important document which is easy to miss.

The Equalization Ratio

The assessment of your property must be within fifteen percent of its true market value.  However, because town-wide assessments may only occur every ten years or so, an “equalization ratio” (sometimes called the “Chapter 123  ratio” after the law which adopted this process) is applied so that the assessed value reflects the property’s true fair market value.  These are published by the New Jersey Division of Taxation (the web page’s location changes, but the best place to start is here.

Determining Whether I Should Appeal My Property Taxes

Once you have received the notice of assessment, you can determine whether you should appeal your property taxes.  New Jersey tax law provides that the municipality gets a fifteen percent leeway in its equalized assessment.  So if your home is worth more than fifteen percent less than the equalized assessment, then yes, you should appeal.

This concept of the equalized value is important in making your decision.  Because the assessed value is not the actual value, you can be fooled into thinking you are paying less taxes, than you should, when you are actually paying more property taxes than you should.  You could look at an assessment of $500,000 and think “wow, my house is worth $750,000, so I’m getting a deal and better keep my mouth shut.”  WRONG!  The math is very important.

For instance, if the equalization ratio is two hundred percent, then an assessment is $500,000 would reflect a fair market value of $1,000,000.  If your house is only worth $750,000, then the difference is more than fifteen percent, and you should appeal because your assessment is too high, even though it seems to be less than what your home is actually worth.

The Filing Deadline

The filing deadline is April 1st in almost all cases (2014, Monmouth County is using an experimental program using January 15th or 45 days after mailing of the notices whatever is later, as the deadline).  The filing deadline for your tax appeal is May 1st if the municipality conducted a town-wide revaluation.  If you miss it, you must wait another year.

Challenging the Assessment

You should be able to figure out what the true fair market value of your house is based on comparable sales in your neighborhood, and there are many websites which can help you.  Likewise, there are a number of websites which can give you a good idea of what your home’s value is.

Once you’ve determined that you might be paying too high property taxes because you may be assessed too high, call us.  We will then work with you to begin the process.

While you will probably have a good idea of whether you are paying too much, you will need to have a certified private assessor do a formal assessment of your property.  That is because you will need admissible expert testimony to prove your assessment is too high.  Websites are “hearsay,” and an assessor will be necessary to give expert testimony to “prove” your particular house is overvalued.  Most towns will not engage in meaningful negotiations unless you have actually filed an appeal and given them an expert assessment.

Contact Us To Appeal Your Property Taxes

We have a high rate of success appealing property taxes for people and businesses throughout the state of New Jersey, both through negotiating reductions and pursuing appeals to challenge the assessments.  For residential tax appeals, we may be able to offer you a “contingency” fee arrangement, depending on the circumstances.  In this type of arrangement, you don’t pay us any fees for our work unless your assessment is actually reduced, in which case you would only pay a percentage of your savings.

We will help you by:

  • Filing the tax appeal for you.
  • Gaining evidence of what your home is actually worth, and using the equalization  ratio (the Chapter 123 ratio) to determine whether you are actually being overtaxed.
  • We will work with an assessor to get an admissible and persuasive assessment to challenge your tax  assessment, to use in negotiations, and to use at trial if the town and assessor refuse to lower your taxes in negotiations.
  • We will gather the necessary evidence to win your appeal.
  • We will send this evidence and assessment to both the tax assessor and county  board of taxation.
  • We will use the evidence and assessment, to negotiate a reduction in your property taxes.
  • If the town and assessor refuse to agree to reducing your taxes during negotiations, we will present your case to the county board of taxation

Our tax appeal attorneys represent homeowners and taxpayers in property tax appeals throughout New Jersey.  E-mail us or call (973) 890-0004 to arrange a consultation.

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