Yehuda Shain On Tax Appeals: Most People Who Appeal Do Not Succeed Because They Did Not Have The Grounds To Appeal

property taxThinking about appealing your property tax assessment? First, experts and tax officers say, study or consult on the rules, think it through again, then decide what to do. Mike and Betty Palermo of Webb Avenue in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune considered appealing their assessment early in 2004. Neptune had just gone through its first revaluation in 14 years, and the Palermos’ residence skyrocketed in taxable value from $135,800 to $448,000, or 330 percent, with their property taxes soaring accordingly.

“We hired a private assessor, for about $100, to come down and study our property, and to let us know how fair or unfair the township’s assessment was,” said Mike Palermo, 81. “He said if we sold the house, we would get at least what the township assessed it at. He said an appeal, therefore, would be disastrous. The tax increase is tough, but we don’t want to move. We did not appeal. We bit the bullet.”

Yehuda Shain, a Lakewood real estate broker, is also a state-certified tax assessor. He said he has assisted hundreds of people in deciding whether they should appeal.

“Most people who appeal do not succeed because they did not have the grounds to appeal,” Shain said. “Some people think that because their taxes are high, and they can not afford to pay, that they can appeal to the tax board. But such an argument carries no weight at all.”

Tax officials in Monmouth and Ocean counties agree that many people do not understand what an assessment appeal involves, and often appeal when, if they had done some preliminary research, they would not have wasted their time and money.

“Many appeals are filed that have no chance of succeeding, and the filing fee is lost,” said Matthew Clark, tax administrator for Monmouth County.

Filing fees, based on the value of the house, range from $5 to $150, officials said.

“It’s important for people to understand how the laws work,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Tax Board. “There is information available from the county’s tax board office and on its Web site that can assist in this process and allow residents to make an informed decision.” Read full article in APP.

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  1. So we shouldnt just appeal because we cant afford the taxes? Is that the point of this article? Im prety sure that most people are fighting their taxes bec they property value has gone down since the last tax reavaluation. I bought my house for $325,000. Any one who has bought the same size and make of house in my earea has paid more then $50,000 less then that in the last 2 years. Thats why i won. Thanks for the very informitive article.

  2. Now is the time to make an appointment with the Reval firm in order to review your new valuations. You are welcome to see exactly how they arived at your valuation.

    In a tax appeal, the assumption is that the valuation is correct & the burden is on the home-owner to disprove the value by showing sales of similliar properties for less.

    Be smart, make an appointment & avoid headaches later.

  3. Lakewood has pacified many homeowners with a slightly lower assesment from the Reval and this was done to quel the barage of appeals…dont be fooled, the town will make it up with the tax rate !! If you feel you’ve been wronged with your assesment, then appeal your assesment it cost $25 bucks and contrary to the APP article a very high percentage of Lakewood homeowners were indeed very successful. It also sent a message to our town officials that we are choking under the strain of their over-inflated budget.

  4. last year i went to one of the LAC tax appeal seminars, filled out the paperwork – got a 9% reduction (settlement) – picked up and the signed the paper from the twp…. now what?? wheres my money??

  5. To clarify – last year you received a reduction BECAUSE it was warranted the value of your home was less than the assessment. This year people are receiveing new values form town because they did a re-assessment on the town. From what I heard from people who received them the value (assessment) is reasonable and not worth an appeal as the assesment is market value(Or below market value) BUT the tax rate will shoot up. Even though the assessment is lower you most probably will pay the same amount as last year maybe more. The tax rate will be higher and you are stuck with no possibilty of lowering your taxes.

  6. The first & foremost is everyone should have their property valued correctly, so I don’t pay your taxes & you don’t pay my share of taxes. Now the fact that the budget spigot is left open to blead us all is due to the fact that everone is passive. When was the last time you got up at a Township meeting to complain? Complain about what? run the township like a bisiness that’s struggling financially. Negoiate with the Unions even on past agreed contracts “you heard me right”, some heavy lay-offs are in order, etc.

  7. If you think about it, the reval is going to kill off all the tax appeals, and thus is a disaster for anyone who hasn’t appealed already (& possibly even for those who have, depending on how the reval was done).

    This is because from a bottom line $$$ perspective, the only thing that counts is how much your house is assessed for relative to other houses. Absolute $ value doesn’t matter at all. Essentially, your share of the Lakewood tax burden is equal to your property’s assessed value as percentage of the assessed value of all (non-exempt) property in Lakewood.

    Problem is that relative value is something that you cannot use as the basis for an appeal. You can only use assessed value as compared to actual sales.

    This was not a problem as long as everyone’s assessed value was high relative to actual sales. You could appeal based on actual sales, and get your assessment reduced. But once all the assessments are reduced relative to actual sales, there will be no grounds for any appeals, regardless of the relative assessment.

    By way of illustration, imagine if there were only 100 houses, all identical. The selling price for all these houses is $350K. The assessor puts them all at $400K, with the exception of one house that is unfairly assessed at $440K. This guy will pay 10% more than everyone else, but he can appeal by pointing to the $350K selling price of comparable houses.

    Now suppose all the houses are revalued at $300K, with the exception of the one house, still unfairly 10% higher at $330K. This guy’s tax bill is unaffected by the reval – he still pays 10% more than the others. But now he can’t appeal either, because all the comparable sales are for $350K, which is higher than his assessment. And his real argument – that the 10% assessed differential is unfair and baseless – is legally barred.

    This is an extreme and oversimplified case, but illustrates the general principle.

  8. The Democrats were allways blamed for Lakewood’s high budget (aka=taxes). Now that the Republicans are in charge, get up to the mike, challenge them-Don’t just sit back and say “what can I do?

  9. Please note that some people received letters stating that the asessment went up .This was a computer error.All you have to do is walk call the new asessor and he will take care of it promptly

  10. I received a letter stating that the assessment went up. OMG it was a computer error!! I better go to the new assessor maybe he will take care of it.

  11. I see Forthingay Phipps does not know what the equalization rate is!! In his case, the equalization rate would be .857, meaning that each house is assessed at 85.7% of true market rate. The poor snook assessed at $330K is being assessed @ 94% of maket rate. Since a variation of 15% is allowed, he may be unable to get a reduction. But the boards usually do give one in such a case.

  12. Attention Lakewood !! This is a Reval year…your assesment must be 100% value…fight your assesment this year, otherwise you will be subjected to next year’s 15% variation. Dont be scared off…APPEAL YOUR TAXES this year before May 1st.

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