2013 tax appeals ding city for almost $182,000

About 120 properties won tax appeals at the Union County Board of Taxation this fall, collectively knocking almost $182,000 off their tax bills for the 2012 year.

The 120 successful appeals and $181,694 in refunds dwarf  pale in comparison to the numbers from 2012 when more than 350 tax appeals cost the city more than $505,000 in tax revenue and contributed to a tax increase to make up the difference. The city is trying something different this year, issuing a credit on fourth-quarter taxes rather than cutting a refund check.

It could be the first time in several years since the housing market collapse that tax appeals have not jumped. There were 570 filed last year, up from 224 the previous year and 128 in 2010 but it’s unclear how many appeals initially were filed for the 2013 tax year that never made it as far as the county tax board after repeated inquiries to the city.

City Council approved a resolution (AR-218) at its October meeting authorizing refunds for the overpayment of taxes. That list, however, does not include appeals that went another route, such as a settlement with the city (like Park Square) or a judgment by the state Tax Court (Meridia Grand). In the case of STS Tire and Auto Center, it received a ruling by the state Tax Court for 2012 but also is included among the 2013 judgments by the county Board of Taxation.

The appeals reduced taxes by about 14.79 percent overall on the 120 properties. Most saw reductions ranging from 3 to 40 percent. The nearly 15-percent decline dropped the collective assessments on the properties by about $3 million, from $20.278 million to $17.278 million. Almost half of the properties (57) received one of three refunds: 18 received a refund of $907.05, 24 received $604.70 and 15 received $1,209.40. Here’s a spreadsheet with details on all 120 appeals.

Collectively, commercial properties saw a larger overall reduction (almost 21 percent) than residential properties (13.5 percent) but residences made up almost three-quarters of the appeals. Nine were related to Hurricane Sandy totaling almost $32,000 in refunds, less than 20 percent of the overall figure; they’re italicized in the Google spreadsheet but not differentiated in that otherwise fantastic Google map.

The list also does not include a multi-year tax appeal by the Rahway Office Center, which the City Council approved at its November meeting; details on that will be in a future post.