The Assessment of the property is the value in use established by the Assessor. As with any other appraisal it is not an exact science. If a taxpayer feels that they are being assessed unfairly they have the right to appeal the assessment through the County Tax Board. However, taxpayers must understand that an assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher taxes. It is an attempt to prove that your property's estimated market value is either inaccurate or unfair.
You may appeal when you can prove at least one of three things:
1. Items that affect value are incorrect on your property record. Example: You have one bath, not two. You have a carport and not a garage. The size of your home is inaccurate.
2. The estimated market value is too high. You have evidence that similar properties have sold for less than the estimated value of your property.
3. Estimated market value of your property is accurate but inequitable because it is higher than the estimated value of similar properties.
Reminder - You will not win an appeal because you think your taxes are too high. This issue you must be taken up with the officials who determine budgets. However, you may be eligible for tax relief or exemptions. This information can be obtained under Exemptions and Deduction Information.
The Assessment Notification mailed out to all property owners in February will provide aggrieved taxpayers with all of the information necessary to file the appeal.
Once the appeal is considered an informal review can be arranged with the Assessor. Most of the information in the Assessor’s Office is public. This information can be useful in preparing an appeal. Gather as much information as you can on similar properties in your neighborhood. The Assessor’s Office has a sales book established to assist the public with information on recent sales. Compare the features of these properties to the features of yours. If there are differences, the values of the properties may be different.
When you meet with the Assessor you should verify the information on your property record card, make sure you understand how your value was estimated, discover if the value is fair compared with values of similar properties in your neighborhood, and understand how to file a formal appeal, if you still want to appeal. The Assessor may not commit to a change in value at this meeting, even though you may have uncovered an error or the assessment appears to be inequitable. View the Assessor’s Office as an ally, not an adversary.
Residential appeals are often settled at the local level. If you are not satisfied with the results of your informal review you have several more opportunities. The first level of formal appeal is usually the County Tax Board. Your appeal is more successful if you present evidence that comparable properties in the same neighborhood are assessed for less than yours. A recent appraisal of your own property may be good evidence of its value. The Tax Board will be interested only in the fairness and accuracy of the value placed on your property, not in whether you can afford to pay your taxes or whether taxes are too high.
If you disagree with the County Tax Board decision, it can be further appealed to the New Jersey Tax Court.
For more information taxpayers can contact the Middlesex County Tax Board at (732) 745-3350.