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Tax Appeal Procedures

The deadline for filing tax appeals in most towns expired on April 1. Many people who file tax appeals do so without knowing the process that follows the filing of the appeal.

This article provides a brief overview of the tax appeal process to give taxpayers an idea of what to expect. Because most tax appeals are filed with the County Tax Board, this article is limited to the local Tax Board process.

The Tax Appeal Hearing. Once an appeal is filed, the County Tax Board will schedule a hearing. Tax appeal hearings are generally held within three to four months after the filing date. If the appeal has been filed by commercial entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company, the taxpayer must be represented by an attorney at the hearing. Even if the appeal was filed by individual, we strongly recommend that all taxpayers retain a New Jersey attorney experienced in tax appeals to pursue the hearing because there are certain procedural requirements that must be satisfied. In all hearings, the town will be represented by the municipal attorney. We also recommend that all taxpayers obtain an appraisal report prepared by a certified real estate appraiser so as to justify the basis for the appeal. Remember that the town's assessment is presumed to be accurate and the burden is on the taxpayer to prove otherwise. The only real way to meet this burden is to have an appraisal by a certified appraiser. If you intend to rely on expert testimony from a real estate appraiser, you must supply a copy of the appraisal report to each County Tax Board member and the municipal assessor at least seven days before the scheduled hearing date. The Board will not consider your evidence and rule in the town's favor if you fail to do so. The appraiser who prepares the report must also be available at the hearing to testify and be cross-examined.

The Tax Board's Decision. New Jersey law states that the Tax Board must hear and render a judgment all appeals within three months of the last day for filing appeals, unless an extension is granted by the Director of the Division of Taxation. Judgments are issued shortly thereafter. If you are dissatisfied with the judgment of the Tax Board, you may appeal to the State Tax Court. You have 45 days from the date your judgment was mailed to file an appeal with the Tax Court. However, an appeal to the Tax Court is time consuming and likely expensive. Further, if you did not produce the appropriate proofs at the County level, you may be prevented from producing them at the Tax Court.

The tax appeal process can be complicated and the failure of the taxpayer to understand and follow the process can lead to an adverse Tax Board judgment. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced New Jersey tax attorney. The Law Office of R.C. Shea and Associates has been representing taxpayers in Ocean County for over 30 years.