So you got your 2011 property tax bill in the mail and you're freaking out. New Jersey property taxes keep going up each year, but you're property values do not. Is it time to appeal your NJ property tax?
The NJ Property Tax Appeal process could decrease your property taxes by lowering the property value assessment against which your tax rate is multiplied.
On or before February 15th, you'll receive a Notice of Property Tax Assessment for 2011 postcard from your municipality showing the current assessment. Is this the true market value? For the majority of municipalities in Middlesex County, the answer is NO. This number must be adjusted by your municipality's average ratio to obtain their estimation of true market value of your home. In North Brunswick, NJ, for example, multiply this number by 2.
Before you consider filing a tax appeal, you'll need to know if your current assessment is "excessive". In other words, is it off by more than 15 percent? But wait, it's a specific 15% spread called the Common Level Range and each municipality has its' own. Insert eye roll here. In other words: WHAT is the maximum value (think less than the lower limit of the range) at which my property must appraise in order to win a tax appeal? Luckily, there's an online calculator at NJTaxAppeal.net that will give you this value.
Next question: WHAT was true market value of my property as of October 1, 2010? Was? Yep! October 1 is the cut-off date for the selection of comparable sold properties on which you can base the true market value for your NJ tax appeal. Hey, we're just the messengers. But wait... sorry, there are two components to the total assessment, land and building (or improvements). Fortunately, there are various resources for getting this information (e.g. county clerk records, real estate agents and appraisers) but they are not all free.
So let's say you've got a good case, what next? Fill out the NJ Tax Appeal Form and file it with your County Tax Board (yes, there's a fee). You file your appeal on or before April 1st. Then, you'll get a hearing date where you convince the County Tax Board with factual evidence that your property was over-assessed.
Is this a Do It Yourselfer? Yes, for many of us it can be. Others prefer to leave it in the hands of professionals. It also depends on the uniqueness of the property and the availability of comparables. The Tax Board wants to see apple to apple comparisons. So if you have a pear and you're surrounded by apples, an appraiser may be needed to make the qualified adjustments of values. In addition, some would argue that an attorney with tax appeal experience increases your odds of reaching a settlement with the Tax Board before getting to the hearing. Then again, many homeowners have successfully appealed their tax assessments, solo. If the property is owned by a business entity, other than sole proprietor, an attorney representative is required.
Join us on February 24th from 7 pm to 8 pm for our "How to Appeal NJ Property Taxes" seminar. This seminar is being held at the Prudential Fox & Roach / Trident Group Building located at 1500 Finnegans Lane, North Brunswick, NJ 08902.
The NJ Division of Taxation provides a brochure "A Guide to Tax Appeal Hearings" in PDF which can be viewed, copied or printed online at www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/lpt/ptappeal.pdf.
NJ Tax Appeal Calculator (http://njtaxappeal.net/Inputs/Calculator.aspx). (Note: Fill in the County Name first and the municipalities will become available for selection when the page refreshes.)
NJ Tax Appeal Form (www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/other_forms/lpt/petappl.pdf/)
How to Appeal NJ Property Taxes Seminar Link