The Law Office of Michael D. Mirne, L.L.C. announces information that may affect Real Estate Tax Assessments in New Jersey

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With Revaluations and Re-Assessments comes the unfortunate reality that a taxpayer may need to file another tax appeal this year, even if he or she recently filed one.

Michael Mirne

The second exception to the Freeze Act has drawn significant attention in Monmouth County, New Jersey, since Monmouth County’s Assessment Demonstration Program (ADP) practically mandates annual revaluations or re-assessments.

In a prior article, we discussed N.J.S.A. 54:3-26, which is sometimes referred to as the “Freeze Act.” That statute sets forth the rule that following a successful real estate tax appeal, the judgment of the County Tax Board shall be binding upon the taxing district for the year of the assessment, and for the next two years. However, two major exceptions to the Freeze Act are the following:

1.    If as of October 1 of the pretax year, the property in question has been the subject of an added assessment, a condominium conversion, a subdivision or zoning change, the binding effect of such judgment shall terminate with said pretax year; And
2.    In cases in which the municipality conducts a complete revaluation or complete reassessment of all properties, the freeze act will no longer be applicable to any property, starting with the year of the revaluation.

The second exception to the Freeze Act has drawn significant attention in Monmouth County, New Jersey, since Monmouth County’s Assessment Demonstration Program (ADP) practically mandates annual revaluations or re-assessments. While a small percentage of towns have opted out of the ADP, the remainder of Monmouth County towns continues to annually re-assess all of its properties. With the annual revaluations and re-assessments comes the reality that a taxpayer, who just won his or her tax appeal, may have to repeat the tax appeal process again for the following year.

While we would have thought that the removal of the protections of the Freeze Act from the County Tax Board’s decisions would have resulted in fewer tax appeals being filed, we have not experienced any diminution in the number of appeals we have filed for Monmouth County properties. In fact, in 2017 we filed more tax appeals for Monmouth County properties than we have filed in any prior year. One major difference with ADP being in effect, however, is that many taxpayers are less eager to retain the services of an appraiser in cases where the anticipated tax savings will only last one year. Instead, some taxpayers are far more willing to rely upon comparable sales, which is far from ideal, since it means that the witness testifying at the trial may be our client, rather than a trained expert. However, with substantial preparation of all our matters, we have come close to approximating the same success rate.

More importantly, taxpayers who are not afforded the protections of the Freeze Act need to be aware that if they won their appeals in prior years, they still must review their new assessments to make sure that they are not worth contesting again. In particular, taxpayers who won their appeals in 2016 or 2017 are the ones who would be affected by the removal of the Freeze Act protections. In addition to Monmouth County residents, several towns outside of Monmouth County will also be affected by revaluations in 2018. These towns include Piscataway, in Middlesex County, which will be undergoing a full re-assessment. In Bergen County, the list of towns is far more extensive, and includes the Boro of Carlstadt, Boro of Closter, Boro of Cresskill, City of Hackensack, Boro of Hasbrouck Heights, Boro of Little Ferry, Boro of Moonachie, Boro of North Arlington, Boro of Oradell, Township of Saddle Brook, Boro of Saddle River, Township of South Hackensack, Boro of Westwood, and the Boro of Woodcliff Lake.

In order to obtain a complete list of revaluation towns, you may contact your County Tax Administrator. In order to find out more about tax appeals, please contact our office.

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Michael Mirne
Law Office of Michael D. Mirne, L.L.C.
+1 (732) 859-8489
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