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How are municipalities dealing with Property Tax Appeals and what it means to residents.

Published: Aug 14, 2012    Updated: Nov 10, 2012    Views 3289    Comments 0
Help the community and translate this article to: Polski

Do you wonder why your property taxes increase so much? If you don’t file tax appeal, you may be paying more tax for those who successfully appealed their property tax.

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Most Atlantic City real estate owners pay for property tax through the roof and my retired mother is no exception. The properties experienced steady tax increases over the years and to put it in perspective my parents real estate taxes were about $700 in 1997 and for 2012 at over $8,500, before the property tax appeal goes in effect.

The largest single year increase was in 2007/2008 time frame when the city performed a city wide property revaluation, which brought the assessed values in line with the current market value at that time. It just happen to be the peak of the housing market and all the properties were assessed at pretty much the highest value in recorded history. Then the big recession hit at the end of the 2008 and the housing market plummeted but not the assessed values. How convenient for the city as they keep on collecting taxes off the highly assessed property values.

There is however a way to fight back, but it doesn’t come without cludges. Taxpayers have a legal right to appeal and for most part the process is the same across the municipalities, but some have certain tactics to make it difficult for the taxpayer. To protect their high budget, Atlantic City hired a lawyer to represent it for all the appeal cases, who then sent out a packet with several pages filled with questions. If the questions were not answered in timely manner the appeal could be dismissed. This in my opinion was intentionally done to complicate the process for the taxpayers in order to dismiss those who don’t respond.

As required by N.J.A.C. 18:12a-1.15, please provide answers to the enclosed interrogatories within (20) days of the receipt of this letter. If you do not provide the answers in a timely manner, the municipality will be unable to review this matter and the County Tax Board may dismiss this appeal.

Nonetheless, the property tax appeals have been steadily increasing over last several years, and with increasing successful tax appeals municipalities are faced with the reductions of budget. There are however certain aspects that normally can offset this difference such as new constructions, but there isn’t much in that department in Atlantic City. The city could decide to cut the budget, or just simply increase the tax rate, which in turn makes everyone else pay to make up the difference. This was the case last year (2011), where more than half of the tax rate increase was directly attributed to the wave of tax appeals, according to city Revenue and Finance Director Michael P. Stinson.

I know that a lot of residents are not aware of this, therefore I’m trying to raise awareness and encourage everyone to file property tax appeals, otherwise you may be stuck with tax increases contributed by others that were able to reduce their property taxes. Also I ask when will this stop and why does the city needs so much more money? Somehow it was sufficient back 15 years ago and now they need 10 times more money to balance the budget. Can someone please enlighten me?
About the Author
Henry Limowski is a freelance writer who shares his knowledge about personal finance and business catering to Polish community living in the U.S. He is dedicated to spreading financial awareness to help people save money. He's the president of QUELL Technologies, LLC, a parent company that owns PodatekDochodowy.com and AmigoLife.com among others.
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