Tax appeals doubled in 2010

Refunds were approved for 52 tax appeals last year, twice as many as were filed and settled at the county Board of Taxation in the 2009 tax year.

The increase was not unexpected and primarily due to economic conditions, City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said. In 2010, 20 of the 52 properties that were appealed were purchased in late 2008 or 2009, and three of them were brought by the city to correct assessments, he said.
The average tax refund among the 52 tax appeals was almost $1,900 while the average reduction on the appeal was $36,500. The largest appeals were industrial or commercial properties, such as more than $5,000 for 1072 Randolph Ave. and more than $15,000 for 670 E. Lincoln Ave., which saw its overall assessment reduced by a third. All 52 tax appeals can be found in this Google spreadsheet.
It’s much the same everywhere. This Bloomberg report from December indicated tax appeals are way up all over (“Tax appeals swamping U.S. cities, towns as property prices plunge”). Specifically, New Jersey homeowners filed 18,147 appeals in 2009, up from 10,067 the previous year — an increase of 80 percent.

Closer to home, there’s this story from MyCentralJersey.com, Piscataway budgets $500G for tax appeals, as well as this one from the Cranford Chronicle, Citing tax appeals, Cranford officials say surplus is down to $58,000 from previous estimates of $1 million.

In November, the City Council approved a multi-year tax appeal settlement for 1510 Main St./90 E. Cherry St. (Block 318, Lot 12) that had been pending in Tax Court. (It was not among the 52 appeals in 2010).

The building, acquired by Pioneer Investment Corp. in Linden for $205,000 in February 2000, houses Skaff Pharmacy on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors. It pays about $11,000 annually in property taxes. The assessment was dropped by $37,600 — from $202,600 to $165,000 — reducing property tax by $1,909 in 2008, $1,962 in 2009 and $2,054. The total $5,924 will be applied toward 2011 taxes, as per the Tax Court.
After more than an hour in closed session tonight, the City Council approved a tax appeal settlement with Merck that will affect the 2011 budget and tax bills. The settlement was approved by a 6-0-1 vote. We’ll have details later this week.