Senator ROBERT W. SINGER
District 30 (Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean)
Senator PAUL A. SARLO
District 36 (Bergen, Essex and Passaic)
Revises procedure for reassessment of certain real property by assessor.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning the assessment of real property and amending R.S.54:4-23.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. R.S.54:4-23 is amended to read as follows:
54:4-23. All real property shall be assessed to the person owning the same on October 1 in each year. The assessor shall ascertain the names of the owners of all real property situate in his taxing district, and after examination and inquiry, determine the full and fair value of each parcel of real property situate in the taxing district at such price as, in his judgment, it would sell for at a fair and bona fide sale by private contract on October 1 next preceding the date on which the assessor shall complete his assessments, as hereinafter required; provided, however, that in determining the full and fair value of land which is being assessed and taxed under the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964, chapter 48, laws of 1964, the assessor shall consider only those indicia of value which such land has for agricultural or horticultural use as provided by said act; and provided further however, that when the assessor has reason to believe that property comprising all or part of a taxing district has been assessed at a value lower or higher than is consistent with the purpose of securing uniform taxable valuation of property according to law for the purpose of taxation, or that the assessment of property comprising all or part of a taxing district is not in substantial compliance with the law and that the interests of the public will be promoted by a reassessment of such property, the assessor shall, after due investigation, make a reassessment of the property in the taxing district that is not in substantial compliance, provided that (1) the assessor has first notified, in writing, the [mayor, the municipal governing body, the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury, the] county board of taxation[,] and the county tax administrator of the basis of the assessor's determination that a reassessment of that property in the taxing district is warranted and (2) the assessor has submitted a copy of a compliance plan to the county board of taxation [and to the Division of Taxation] for approval. [If the assessor does not receive an approval decision or a decision disapproving the plan from either the county board of taxation or the Division of Taxation within 45 days of their receipt of the compliance plan, then the entity that did not respond shall be deemed to have approved the plan.] Following a reassessment of a portion of the taxing district pursuant to an approved compliance plan, the assessor shall certify to the county board of taxation, through such sampling as the county board of taxation deems adequate, that the reassessment is in substantial compliance with the portions of the taxing district that were not reassessed. For the purposes of assessment, the assessor shall compute and determine the taxable value of such real property at the level established for the county pursuant to law.
(cf: P.L.2001, c.101, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill is designed to provide municipal tax assessors, county tax administrators and county boards of taxation with enhanced flexibility to address declining property assessments administratively. The bill would enable assessors to more easily and efficiently perform reassessments for part of a taxing district.
Under current law, reassessments of property values in a section of a taxing district are not permitted unless the assessor notifies several local and state offices, and receives approvals from the county tax board and Division of Taxation. This often cumbersome process is designed to encourage assessors to limit reassessments to an entire taxing district. This policy furthers a laudable goal of reassessing all properties at the same time to avoid concerns that portions of a taxing district are being singled out. Unfortunately the district wide process does not allow assessors to deal swiftly with declining property values. Property reassessments or revaluations for an entire taxing district can take multiple years to accomplish and can be a very expensive for the district.
Absent a district wide reassessment or revaluation, the only recourse for a homeowner or business who believe their property has been incorrectly assessed, is an appeal to the county tax board or tax court. The process can be intimidating and expensive for the average homeowner or small business owner.
This bill would simplify the process under which an assessor performs a reassessment of a portion of a taxing district by requiring that the assessor notify, in writing, only the county board of taxation and the county tax administrator of the assessor’s determination that a reassessment of certain real property in the taxing district is warranted. Under current law, that notification also must be made to the mayor, the governing body, and the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury. The bill also provides that the assessor must submit a copy of a compliance plan only to the county board of taxation for approval. Current law also requires approval by the Division of Taxation. Finally, the bill would remove the current provision that, if the assessor does not receive an approval decision or a decision disapproving the plan from either the county board of taxation or the Division of Taxation within 45 days of their receipt of the compliance plan, then the entity that did not respond shall be deemed to have approved the plan. Under the bill, the Division of Taxation will not be part of the decision process and the county board of taxation will be required to act affirmatively to approve or disapprove the compliance plan.
The unprecedented reduction in property values and the lack of predictability in the real market demands a more flexible approach. This bill will facilitate partial, or neighborhood, reassessments be performed by municipal assessors, with oversight by county tax boards. Assessors will be encouraged to use this process by removing the multilayered notification and approval procedures which the law now requires.