RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAX APPEALS
WE CAN HELP
We may be able to assist you in reducing your assessment and, in turn, your real estate taxes. Mr. Rutigliano serves as Assistant Counsel to the Township of Weehawken and defends tax appeals for the Township at the county tax board as well as in state tax court. He has also represented numerous municipalities in the defense of tax appeals, including the Townships of North Bergen, West New York and North Arlington. He represents property owners throughout the State of New Jersey in pursuit of the reduction of their assessments.
HOW IT WORKS
A New Jersey taxpayer who feels that his or her taxes are too high may appeal the assessed value of his or her real property. However, to sustain a successful appeal, good comparable sales must exist and a petition must be filed with your County Tax Board or the New Jersey Tax Court no later than April 1st. Additionally, all taxes and other municipal charges must be current up to the first quarter of the year of the appeal.
WE DO ALL THE WORK FOR YOU
Our office will file the appeal, research and submit relevant comparable sales, negotiate a settlement if appropriate and try the matter at the local tax board if necessary. The taxpayers involvement is not required in all but a very small percentage of cases.
Your taxes cannot be appealed and neither can your municipality’s tax rate. Your assessment, however, can be appealed. But what exactly do these words mean?
Assessment: Your assessment is essentially the fair market value of your property - or the “real” amount your municipality’s tax experts believe you could sell your property for in the current open market as a result of an arms-length sale (a normal sale to a stranger, not a sale to a family member, as a result of a divorce, a short sale or other problem sale).
Tax Rate: The ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. Another way of saying this is the percentage per dollar of assessed property value that must be paid to the government as property taxes. This changes by municipality and by year.
Property Taxes: The amount of money paid to the government as the result of the following formula: Assessed Value x tax rate = tax bill.
Comparable Sales: These are sales of similar properties during a specified time frame that are used to prove that an assessment is improper. That is, that the fair market value of your property is lower than the municipality’s expert says it is.
Revaluation: A program to appraise all real property within a municipality to establish fair market value, including the measuring and inspecting of all properties.
Reassessment: A program to appraise all or a substantial portion of a municipality to establish fair market value without inspecting and measuring the properties, using existing data.
HOW IS MY REDUCTION CALCULATED?
The appeal of the assessment is done through the use of comparable sales. Since the tax rate is the same for all residential properties in the municipality, the way to reduce your taxes is by bringing down the assessment of that real property. This is the way to save money by paying less tax. An equally important reason to keep taxes low is to make the property more attractive to a potential buyer. If you were looking at two similar properties with similar asking prices, which would you choose? The one with higher taxes or the one with lower taxes? That’s right, so would I!
It is wise to review the assessment on a property each and every year to see whether a tax appeal is warranted. Property owners often feel that their property is worth an amount equal to the assessment on the property. This misconception leads owners to overlook the different ratios of assessed value to true value applicable in each of the assessing districts of New Jersey and to overlook the fact that these ratios generally decline each year. For example, if a property worth one million dollars this year is located in a municipality with a 60 percent ratio, it should be assessed at $600,000 this year. If that ratio drops to 54 percent next year, its assessment should be $540,000. If the ratio drops, but the assessment remains high, it may be time for an appeal.
If the taxpayer prevails in securing a tax appeal judgment reducing its assessment, the so-called "Freeze Act" binds the municipality for the years covered by the tax appeal plus two additional years, subject to two exceptions. The first exception is a complete revaluation of all real property in the municipality, while the second exception is proof by the municipality of a substantial increase in the property’s value (such as an addition qualifying as an added assessment, a condominium or cooperative conversion, a subdivision or a zoning change). These exceptions aside, the assessment is frozen at the reduced level, at the taxpayer’s sole option. Thus, if a taxpayer wishes to appeal for a further reduction during the freeze period, he or she is free to do so.
YOUR SAVINGS AND OUR FEE
We work on a contingency basis. This means our fee is a percentage of the real money amount we save property owners on an appeal. We ask nothing up front other than the filing fee, which is set and mandated by the State of New Jersey. We pay this fee directly to the County Tax Board in connection with the filing of your case. The bottom line is, if we don’t save you money on your taxes then we collect no fee. If we do save you money and collect a fee, our fee will be less than your first year savings. This means you will ALWAYS come out ahead.
Additionally, a taxpayer’s savings usually lasts several years or longer. Revaluations and reassessments are expensive for a municipality and they usually make its citizens unhappy. Therefore, they are not done often. Some municipalities go 20 years for more without performing either. This means a homeowner’s assessment can stay the same, or sometimes continue to decrease with continued tax appeals, for many years. Since our fee is only collected on the first year’s savings, every dollar you save in additional years is 100% yours to keep. You risk only the filing fee which, although based on your current assessment, is typically $25. (See chart with current, statutory filing fees to the right.)
Please contact us for a free phone consultation today. We will let you know if we think we can save you money before we file your case.