February 18, 2014
Real Estate Assessments and Property Tax Appeals: Review Your Assessment Now
Written By: Ronald L. Perl and Ryan P. Kennedy
It has often been said that the only two constants in this world are death and taxes. Hill Wallack LLP may be able to help with the latter.
If it has not already arrived, residential and commercial property owners in New Jersey should soon be receiving their property tax assessments for 2014, meaning that now is the time to determine whether it is in your best interests to appeal these assessments and potentially reduce your 2014 tax bill. Generally, the deadline for real estate tax appeals in New Jersey is April 1 (unless your property is part of Monmouth County’s demonstration project, in which case the deadline was January 15). In Pennsylvania, the deadline varies County by County, but generally is August 1st or September 1st.
Whether you have property in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, annual real estate taxes are the direct product of the assessed valuation of the property, so it is important to review these assessments to determine whether they are accurate and fair. Reviewing the assessment is particularly crucial when, as now, property values have suffered deep declines in value. In these tough economic times, tax assessments may not reflect this decrease in property value and often are too high. While a taxpayer cannot challenge a municipality’s tax rate, a property owner can appeal an unfair property assessment.
In New Jersey, if successful, the value of the assessment will be reduced for the year under appeal–and potentially for as many as two years following the year of the appeal under New Jersey’s so-called Freeze Act. In Pennsylvania, if you prevail in lowering your assessment and thereby lowering your property taxes, your tax assessment will be reduced for the following tax year and every year thereafter until there is a county wide reassessment. Because property taxes are based on the local tax rate and the tax assessment, lowering the assessment will result in reduced property tax payments.
If you believe your property may be over-assessed, we recommend acting immediately upon receiving notification of your assessment to determine whether or not you have a tax appeal worth pursuing.
As a taxpayer, you should not assume the assessment amount set forth in the Notice of Assessment is the actual value determined by the assessor in any tax year that does not involve a revaluation or reassessment. Rather, the taxpayer must apply the average tax ratio as well as the “common level range” to the assessed value to judge whether the actual value determined by the assessor is excessive and whether an appeal could be successful. Hill Wallack’s Tax Appeals Team can walk you through this process for your properties and welcomes the chance to speak to you about a potential appeal.
For up-to-date information concerning real estate tax appeals, please visit the New Jersey Real Estate Tax Appeals blog at http://www.propertytaxesnj.com.
The firm’s Tax Appeals Team aggressively represents property owners, mortgagees, tenants and lien holders in appeals throughout the region. Our attorneys regularly make presentations to area condominium and homeowner’s associations, as well as investor, trade and industry groups on this constantly evolving subject. For assistance with tax appeals, to schedule a consultation or to inquire about a presentation or speaking engagement, please contact one of the attorneys on Hill Wallack LLP’s Tax Appeals Team, which assists clients with tax appeal matters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
About Hill Wallack LLP
Founded in 1978, Hill Wallack LLP is a leading law firm with offices in Princeton and Morristown, New Jersey and Yardley, Pennsylvania. Our regional strength places us in an ideal position in today’s market. With 70 lawyers, our mid-market size allows us to provide sophisticated, high-level service to clients in a cost-efficient, responsive manner.
Our attorneys are called upon to tackle some of the toughest legal and business challenges. The firm represents businesses, nonprofit and government entities, and individuals in litigation, transactional and regulatory issues. The firm also includes those skilled in family law, trusts & estates, tax liability and other areas of individual service. For more information, please visit www.hillwallack.com.
This article provides information of general interest and is not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute for consultation with legal counsel. Any questions regarding the specific issues raised in this article should be directed to the authors or to your contacts at Hill Wallack LLP.