Is now the right time to appeal your property tax assessment?
Real estate values in Hudson County continue to decline while property taxes continue to skyrocket. Now is a good time to evaluate whether you should appeal your property tax assessment. Gess Gess & Scanlon, P.C. can assist you in the process. Gess Gess & Scanlon, P.C. has been serving real estate clients in Hudson County for over ten years. Over the last three years, Gess Gess & Scanlon has successfully reduced the tax assessments of almost 1,000 Hudson County property owners and have reduced our clients’ annual property taxes by almost $2,500,000.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! New Jersey requires you pay taxes based upon the “true value” of your property. Nothing more! True value represents the fair market value of the property (as of October 1 of the prior calendar year). While the true value concept is simple, the application can be difficult since, in practice, assessors do not reassess each property annually.
DO THE MATH. The assessed value of your property can be found on the Notice of Assessment which the assessor is required to mail to each property owner annually by February 1st. To determine the value of your property as “implied” by your assessment, simply divide the total property assessment by the municipality’s equalization ratio. The 2012 equalization ratio (or average ratio) for your municipality can be found at the following web site: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/lpt/chap123/2012/chap123hud.pdf For example, a property in the City of Hoboken with a $150,000 property tax assessment has an “implied” value of $483,715 applying Hoboken’s 2012 equalization ratio of 31.01%. Note that the “implied” value of the same property in 2011 would have been $506,244 applying Hoboken’s 2011 equalization rate of 29.63%.
DO NOT DELAY! The determination of whether your property is over assessed is specific to your property. Please contact Richard Gess (firstname.lastname@example.org or (201) 610-1340 ext. 104 Joseph Scanlon (email@example.com or (201) 610-1340 ext. 103 for a free evaluation regarding whether we can reduce your taxes. We look forward to working with you to lower your property tax bills.
Before making your choice of attorney, you should give this matter careful thought. The selection of an attorney is an important decision. If the letter is inaccurate or misleading, report same to the Committee on Attorney Advertising, Hughes Justice Complex, CN 037, Trenton, New Jersey 08625.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Q1: When is the filing deadline?
A1: Appeals can be filed as of January 1, 2012 and the filing deadline is April 2, 2012 (since April 1, 2012 falls on a Sunday). There are no extensions and no relief is available if the filing deadline is missed.
Q2: Is the appeal retroactive? A2: The tax benefit related to a 2012 appeal is retroactive to January 1, 2012. You
cannot obtain a benefit for prior years.
Q3: Is the appeal only good for 2012? Do I have to appeal my tax assessment every year?
A3: In most cases a successful appeal “freezes” the reduction in the assessment for three years — the year under appeal and two succeeding years. The three year freeze does not apply in the year of a municipal wide reassessment or revaluation. Thus, for example, in Jersey City, the reduction may benefit only 2012 (or possibly 2012 and 2013) depending upon the year that the Jersey City revaluation becomes effective. Note that the 3-year freeze applies only to the municipality. As a property owner, you can appeal your assessment every year.
Q4: When will my appeal be heard?
A4: The tax board generally does not schedule hearings until after the April 2, 2012 filing deadline has passed. Depending upon the volume of appeals filed, it may take 2-4 weeks for the tax board to establish a calendar scheduling the appeals. I do not expect any appeal hearings to be scheduled prior to May 2012 and all hearings should be completed prior to the end of August. Historically, appeals have been scheduled by municipality in “block” order and whether an appeal is filed on January 1st or April 1st has no bearing on when an appeal is heard.
Q5: When/how will I realized the benefit of the tax appeal?
A5: Typically, you will realize the tax savings associated with an appeal through a credit against fourth quarter taxes. Whether you receive a determination of your tax reduction in May 2012 or August 2012, the timing of the benefit is the same. Most municipalities will also issue a revised tax bill which indicates that you have successfully appealed your tax assessment and showing the amount of the credit and total taxes for the year. If your mortgage lender escrows and pays property taxes on your behalf, you will need to contact your lender and request that they refund any excess funds to you and that they re-compute your required monthly tax escrow going forward.
Q6: What does it cost to retain Gess Gess & Scanlon to pursue my appeal?
A6: The only fee that is due in advance is the filing fee. assessed value of each property as follows:
less than $150,000 $150,000 or more, but less than $500,000 $500,000 or more, but less than $ 1,000,000 $1,000,000 or more
Filing fees are based upon the
$ 5.00 $ 25.00 $ 100.00 $ 150.00
In most cases, the filing fee is $25.00. The Firm’s fee is typically contingent. If you do not realize a tax benefit, no fees or out-of-pocket expense reimbursement is due. Generally, our fee is one-third of the first year tax savings. Payment is due from the property owner once the Memorandum of Judgment reflecting the reduction in the property tax assessment has been entered and a revised tax bill showing the tax savings has been issued (typically in the November time frame).
Q7: Should I file an appeal if I am selling my property?
A7: Most definitely. Property taxes that are out of line with other comparable properties can be a significant obstacle to selling your property and/or obtaining the maximum sale price. Since the only amount at risk is the filing fee, there is no downside to indicating in your sale list that a tax appeal is pending. You should also be careful to ensure that your sale contract contains a provision that provides for an allocation of the tax savings between buyer and seller since otherwise 100% of the benefit will go to the buyer. If you contact Gess Gess & Scanlon when you are selling, we can ensure that you are adequately protected.
Q8: I received a solicitation from an out-of-town attorney. Why should I use your firm?
A8: When pursuing a property tax appeal, knowledge of the local market is critical to maximizing the tax benefit derived from a property tax appeal. Gess Gess and Scanlon, P.C. has been representing property owners in the Hudson County real estate market for over 14 years representing developers as well as thousands of individual purchasers and sellers and as such, we have an intimate knowledge of the local market. Among attorneys, we believe that our knowledge of the Hudson County area is second to none.
Q9: I am not sure whether I have an appealable assessment. Who should I contact?
A9: For a no cost assessment of whether you have a tax appeal opportunity, please contact Joe Scanlon or Rich Gess (e-mail is preferred).
Joseph K. Scanlon, Esq.
(201) 610-1340 ext. 103
Richard B. Gess, Esq.
(201) 610-1340 ext. 104