In a market where economic indicators continue to show encouraging signs (e.g., decreasing vacancy conditions across market segments, improved employment numbers and rental rates, and continuing low levels of inflation), the prospect for property value appreciation exists. Because of questionable municipal assessment practices, often blindly motivated by the objective of maximizing tax ratables, careful scrutiny of assessments, especially in changing market conditions, is warranted. Consequently, it behooves commercial property owners to review their property tax assessments with their professionals now to ensure that their assessments are in line with present values and to verify that they are not paying more than their fair share of taxes. At the same time the potential exists that a successful appeal can work to lock in assessments at current property values, even in the face of possible increasing values.
Because New Jersey law provides for a “Freezing” of assessments for a period of two additional years, beyond any successful year appealed, the tax appeal vehicle has positive effects reaching into the future as well. In fact, because assessments are generally not modified until a town-wide revaluation or reassessment program is implemented (usually every 5-10 years), there is a real prospect that a lower assessment achieved as a result of a successful appeal could actually remain in place for well beyond the statutorily guaranteed two year “Freeze” period.
As a result, we believe that there continues to be substantial opportunities for property owners to realize significant tax savings and lock in current values for the foreseeable future. We therefore encourage commercial property owners (whether owners of office, industrial, manufacturing, hotel, multi-family and/or other special purpose properties) to discuss options for a tax appeal with counsel having expertise in this specialized practice area. In addition, those property owners who may benefit from statutory tax exemptions relating to non-profit, institutional or religious organization owner/users should similarly be reviewing with counsel whether all benefits available to them are being realized.
Because the 2019 tax appeal filing deadline is rapidly approaching (April 1, 2019, or May 1, 2019 in the case of a town-wide reassessment or revaluation) now is the appropriate time to take action.