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tax appealHow To Do A Tax Appeal

It’s tax appeal season.  How to do a tax appeal is what this article is about so let’s begin.

Every year from January 1st through March 31st Bergen County property owners can file an appeal of their property tax assessment.  You can only appeal the assessment; you can’t appeal the property tax.

Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessment by the tax rate.  It’s the assessment that a tax assessor gives a home which really counts.  Tax rates change every year.  Assessments stay the same for several years.

Understanding Assessments

Assessments change on a home for usually 3 reasons:

  1. A town wide re-assessment
  2. Improvements
  3. Tax appeal

When tax assessments get out of whack with market values, a town will do a revaluation of all property.  This is expensive so it doesn’t happen often.  Improvements raise assessments because the house is worth more with, for example, a new kitchen.  Successful tax appeals lower assessments.  As a result, an owner’s path to lower property taxes is by successfully appealing their home’s assessment.

Tax assessors try to make everyone’s tax burden fair when they assess a home.  They look at what homes are selling for and know the market well.  Towns hire companies to do town wide revaluations.  Assessors try to get inside every home but not all owners cooperate.  This can backfire because you can be over assessed.  Remember that if an assessor does not get inside assumptions are made that can hurt you.

The Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb is you must prove that your current assessment should be reduced by 15% or more.  The burden of proof is on you; not on the tax assessor.  You need at least 3 but no more than 5 comparable sales which closed before October 1st of the prior year.  Appeals are filed with the Bergen County Board of Taxation in Hackensack.

The Bergen County Board of Taxation will mail you the required petition of appeal form.   Here is a tip for you about finding information on this site: Bergen County redid it’s website.  Because, in my opinion, they didn’t want to make it easy for a tax appeal, it’s not very clear.  You have to scroll halfway down the page to find the links for a tax appeal.

Once you do find the links and get the form, you have 2 options.  You can complete it and mail it in or deliver it directly to their Hackensack location.  Email and faxing isn’t allowed.  You must also give your local tax assessor a copy.  Here’s a tip:  Call them at 201-336-6300 if their site is overwhelmed and not responding.

Comparable sales should be near your property, have similar lot and structure size, age, style and condition.  It’s also a good idea to take pictures of your property and comparables used.  It’s essential that you know every property intimately well so you can present a detailed presentation and a suggested new value based on the evidence you cite.

While not impossible to do yourself, this is an involved process done at a public hearing.  Everything you need to know is on the Bergen County Board of Taxation website  You can also hire an attorney who specializes in tax appeals.

It’s tax appeal season and it ends on April 1st.  Do your hotax appealme work.  You must be able to prove that your assessed value should be 85% or less than it is now.  Good luck!

NOTE:   I wrote this article 3 years ago.  I’ve received several calls lately on tax appeals so it seemed right to update and re-publish it.

3 Responses to “How To Do A Tax Appeal”

  1. thomas sereika

    rec’d reassessment 2/13
    i know the assessor was not in my home and the bathroom and the number of bathrooms is wrong
    please resechdule me:

    thomas sereika
    block 57 lot15.01
    307 high st north arlington,nj
    201 889 1670

  2. Zlatomir S Vergiev

    Looking to appeal taxes for 43 B Triumph court East Rutherford 07073 . I purchased condo July312019 with statement from Jan10th 2019 taxes 5995 then when start pay end of 2019 they gave me new Statement for 6888

    • Bergen County Real Estate Agent

      I think the 1st step is to call your tax assessor. From the information I have, it looks like there was an unusual drop in your condo’s tax bill last year. Frankly what I see does not make a lot of sense. I am emailing you the New Jersey MLS Realist Report which shows you the assessments for the past 3 years. Frankly this does not make sense to me unless the town did a town-wide revaluation. Still, I’m not used to seeing assessed values change every year as you’ll see. You may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in tax appeals. Martin Sharit is one I know of – his phone number is 201-488-6338

      I’m not an expert at tax appeals but if there’s any possible way to appeal your assessment, Marty knows how to do it. I have an appointment shortly so I must go now. However, IF there was a town wide re-assessment, you should have been given that information. As you will see in the NJMLS Realist report, there was an unusual drop in your property’s assessed value last year. At any rate, Marty Sharit is a tax appeal specialist so he really is the best person to call upon. I believe he does not charge anyone unless the appeal is successful. What you can appeal is your assessed value.

      Let me know how you are doing and feel free to call me at 201-741-8490. Right now I have to go to an appointment. Barbara