For New Jersey property owners, the collapse of the housing market and the State’s budget woes have not translated into lower real estate taxes. Quite the contrary; they’re going up. What many property owners don’t realize is that environmentally constrained lands (like wetlands, certain types of easements or buffers, steep slopes, etc.) are considered “non-developable land” and could offer one a successful tax appeal strategy.
Every year in late January / early February a little postcard from your local tax assessor is sent out to advise you of this year’s property assessment that can have major long-term consequences on your tax bill. With New Jersey’s budget in turmoil and property taxes the principal source of revenue for cities, counties and school districts, property owners can be expect the Tax Man to come calling.
Your assessment is usually the same as the prior year’s assessment unless the municipality undergoes a revaluation or reassessment, which is becoming increasingly common. If you believe your assessment is excessive then you must file a tax appeal with the County Board of taxation on or before April 1st. If your assessment exceeds $1,000,000, then you have the option of filing your appeal with the County Board of Taxation or filing a direct appeal to the Tax Court of New Jersey by April 1st.
In these days of falling real estate values, many assessors are automatically reducing assessed values unilaterally to avoid an onslaught of tax appeals. Many times the assessed value may represent only 50% of the property’s value. But many municipalities switched to using “market rate” assessments during the real estate “boom” years to keep pace with escalating property values. Therefore before you can make a determination as to whether a tax appeal may be worthwhile, you need to determine the true value upon which the assessment is based.
GreenWorks has successfully assisted many types of property owners; from residential and investment properties to commercial and industrial sites through the tax appeal process. Of course, the proper “tax appeal team” is needed which can include a combination of appraiser, surveyor, engineer, planner and / or attorney depending upon the nature of the argument for the reduction. But regardless, everyone should have a better understanding of their real estate taxes and what can be done to protect their property from continued taxation in the State that has the highest property taxes in the country.
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