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What You Don’t Do Can Kill Your Tax Appeal

September 2018

An Article by:
Jeffrey M. Hall

There’s a killer on the loose. And your winnable tax appeal could be its next victim. If you are the owner of commercial, retail, industrial or any other type of income producing property, beware of the Chapter 91 request. They are sneaky and come quietly but can kill your chance of a getting a tax assessment reduction through a tax appeal. However, with a little knowledge and preparation, Chapter 91 requests, aren’t so scary after all and can be handled with relative ease.

So what is a Chapter 91 request?  Every year, New Jersey law permits a municipal assessor to request an expense and income statement to be completed and returned by an owners of any property that is capable of (but not necessarily) producing income.  N.J.S.A 54:4-34 (commonly called “Chapter 91”). The requests are in a standard format, are typically sent by certified mail must be accompanied by a copy of the statute that authorizes Chapter 91 requests. Why so scary?  A response must be thorough and submitted within 45 days, or any subsequent tax appeal filed by the owner or any taxpayer can be dismissed by the New Jersey Tax Court or by the County Tax Board of Taxation at the municipality’s request.  That dismissal is a bullet that cannot often be dodged.

The best way to protect oneself from this killer is to be prepared and responsive.  A proactive approach will save your appeal from being DOA. Here are four things to know and do to be prepared for a Chapter 91 request.

Know the Timeline and Meet the Deadline

Chapter 91 requests can come almost any time of year but typically tax assessors send them during the summer. Once received, you want to make sure that the request then gets to the person responsible for its completion, since there are only 45 days to submit a response.

Insure Accuracy

If a response is not complete or is misleading, your tax appeal may be dismissed.

Lock in Your Response

Even if you are not sure if your property qualifies as “income-generating” it is always best to respond to a Chapter 91 request. It’s best to file a response for any properties that may be considered income-generating (vacant, owner-occupied or otherwise) to avoid a dismissal of your appeal.

Letter including Response Must Be Certified

Sending your response to a Chapter 91 request via certified mail within 45 days in the best way to guarantee the safety of your tax appeal. Certified mail offers you proof of mailing so if it is claimed your tax response was untimely or never received, you won’t have to worry about a derailed tax appeal or costly court hearing.

Chapter 91 requests don’t have to be scary. Arm yourself with the knowledge of these few simple rules and your 2019 tax appeal process will be a simple one.  Consult an attorney familiar with tax appeal law if you are uncertain about the any aspect of the process.

 

For more information on Chapter 91 requests or tax appeals, please contact Jeffrey Hall of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein and Blader, P.C. at jhall@szaferman.com or (609) 275-0400.

 

 

 

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