NJSA 54:3-21 is the jurisdictional statute for tax appeals. It was recently amended by L. 2009, c.251, effective January 16, 2010. This amendment is noteworthy as it raises the floor for filing direct real property assessment challenges in the Tax Court. Previously, a complaint could not be filed in the Tax Court and the County Board of Taxation by passed if the assessed value exceeded $750,000. As of January 16, 2010, the assessed value for a property must exceed $1 million to trigger the court’s original jurisdiction. R. 8:3-5 of New Jersey’s Rules of Court were changed as of February 9th to conform.
Taxpayers are not remediless if the property’s assessment is $1 million or less. In that case, a petition, not a complaint, can be filed with the County Board of Taxation of the county in which the property is located. The procedural requirements for County Boards differ from board to board as well as with the procedural requirements of the Tax Court. However, in either forum, a taxpayer must comply with several challenges including: (1) the burden of proof on value, (2) Chapter 91, and (3) Chapter 123. Failure to comply with any of these will result in dismissal of the taxpayer’s petition or complaint, as the case may be.
The specifics of N.J.S.A. 54:3-21 (the “Statute”) remain the same:
- A petition or a complaint must be filed on or before April 1st of the year of assessment or, on or before May 1st, if the taxing district undertook a municipal-wide revaluation or a municipal-wide reassessment.
- The taxing district (the assessor) is required to bulk mail to each property owner a notification of the assessment and file a certification with the County Board of Taxation advising of the date the bulk mailing was completed.
- Appeals are governed by the State Uniform Tax Procedure Law. An appeal to the Tax Court establishes jurisdiction over the entire matter with the court.
- A cross-petition of appeal or a counterclaim can be filed within 20 days from the date of service of a petition or a complaint by the other party.
It is well established that this Statute is jurisdictional and therefore filing deadlines cannot be waived. An untimely filing will result in a dismissal of an appeal no matter how meritorious. Finally, the appeal process established by this Statute does not apply to appeals of an assessment or an exemption based on a financial agreement controlled by the Long Term Tax Exemption Law.