Mazzeo Proposes Changes to Property Tax Appeal System to Help Save Money, Eliminate Municipal Burden

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo is proposing common sense changes to the way local property taxes are collected in order to help save municipalities money and eliminate unnecessary budgetary headaches.

In doing so, Mazzeo introduced a bill last Thursday that would reschedule the property tax assessment appeal process statewide to dates prior to the adoption of local budgets.

“Our goal is to adopt a more pragmatic timeframe for tax appeals in order to reduce costs for municipalities and ultimately save taxpayers their hard earned money,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This shift will create a more accurate local property tax rate, one that reflects the true value of the tax base that provides the revenue needed to fund the local budget.”

Specifically, Mazzeo’s bill (A-3313) addresses the systemic costs that result from the losses, which arise from successful assessment appeals by property owners. These successful appeals reduce the property tax base and require municipalities to refund large amounts of property taxes.

Under current law, every municipal tax assessor files the municipality’s tax list with the county board of taxation, which subsequently sets the local tax rates. Assessment appeals are filed by property owners on April 1 of each year, or on May 1 in the case of a municipality that has undergone a municipal-wide revaluation or reassessment of real property. Appeals are heard by the county tax board and generally decided in most, if not all, cases by the end of July. In most cases appeals are decided after municipal budgets are adopted, causing municipalities to borrow or bond for funds to pay back successful appeals. This puts an additional burden on municipalities which have to refund to excess property taxes if a property owner wins an appeal, and also may place an additional burden on taxpayers if they have to pay the refunds.

The chart depicting the current statutory dates relative to the individual functions that comprise the real property assessment process, and the proposed dates for those functions under Mazzeo’s proposed bill, can be viewed here.