By: Jeffrey Hall
This has been a most unusual tax appeal season. Normally, most assessments must be appealed by April 1st (May 1st in a revaluation municipality) but not this year! On March 19, the Supreme Court issued an Order under the authority of the New Jersey Constitution. NJ CONST. ART. VI Sec. 2, para. 3. Pursuant to that Order, the deadline for filing a tax appeal Petition or a Complaint to challenge an assessment was extended to the latter of May 1st or thirty (30) days subsequent to the Governor’s determination that the State of Emergency he declared in Executive Order No. 103 has ended. To date, the Governor has not acted and the Supreme Court has not modified its order with respect to these deadlines.
When initially issued, the largely held public view was that the Coronavirus would come and go and New Jersey would be reopening for business by no later than the end of April. However, through the waning days of March and the beginning of April those hopes were dashed as the tragedy of illness and death, mostly in New Jersey and New York City, mushroomed to untold proportions. Thus, while it was first anticipated that May 1st would be a hard and fast deadline, the actual deadline for filing a tax appeal keeps getting pushed out.
As May 1st approaches, it is clear that we need to look ahead and reevaluate our real estate positions. While there are green shoots of reemerging economies in other States, that is not so true in our region with mid-May being the current target date for Executive Order No. 103 to be lifted and New Jersey’s economy to be restarted. Consequently, the tax appeal deadline may be extended to at least mid-June unless the Supreme Court chooses to amend its March 19th order.
Why should this shifting deadline be important? The stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders has been the brutal impact on the economy which has unfolded before our collective eyes. The impact on real estate holdings has been uneven but in some instances devastating. Retail has been hit particularly hard; as has hospitality. For instance, it is not uncommon to come across an empty enclosed mall which now serves solely as an open air coronavirus testing site located on a tiny portion of its parking lot. The office market appears to be on the cusp of an accelerating secular trend downward as it seems that nearly all the country is working remotely, potentially obsoleting the office as we know it. In line retail is in massive decline due in part to the exploding online shopping trend.
To sum up, there may not be a better time to step back and take stock of one’s real estate portfolio. While valuations for 2020 tax appeals may be predicated on a pre-coronavirus world, no one, municipalities and their advisors included, will not be looking forward to our new normal as the potential for dramatic downward shifts in valuation of real estate assets exists. These resetting of asset values may very well lead to significant reductions in assessments along with significant tax savings for the savvy taxpayers who appeal their properties’ assessment.
If you are considering filing a tax appeal, please contact Jeffrey Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 609.275.0400 to schedule a consultation.
The foregoing is intended for general information purposes and is no substitute for specific legal advice.