Q. We have paid real estate taxes for more than 40 years on our home in Bernards Township. Recently the municipality found out that the house had a smaller area and reduced the assessment accordingly. Can we recover the taxes we paid on the excess assessment over these 40+ years?
A. It’s a shame that the records were wrong for so long, but it’s not looking good for 40 years of overpayments,
You should start with a conversation with the tax assessor in Bernards Township to discuss this matter.
It is probably unlikely that you will receive a refund of the overpayment of your taxes due to an incorrect assessment since you had the ability to appeal your assessment every year if you thought it was incorrect, said Patricia Daquila, .a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.
She said according to the Bernards Township website, every year on Feb. 1, postcards go out with assessments for the current year.
“The assessed value represents the market value of the property as of Oct. 1 of the previous tax year,” she said. “If you do not agree with the assessment, then you should contact the tax assessor’s office to discuss the assessment.”
Daquila said the New Jersey Property Taxpayer Bill of Rights ensures that all property taxpayers receive the assistance to be able understand and meet their property tax responsibilities. If you still do not agree with the assessment after contacting the tax assessor, then it is your right to file an appeal, she said.
In an appeal process, it is the taxpayer’s responsibility to prove that the assessed value is unreasonable compared to a market value standard, Daquila said.
“In Bernards Township, an appeal should be filed by April 1 of each tax year or 45 days from the date that the bulk mailing of the assessment was completed,” Daquila said. “However, in other counties, the appeal deadline could vary.”
After filing an appeal, you will have a hearing at the county tax board. If you are not satisfied with the decision made at the county tax board hearing, then you can file an appeal with the Tax Court of New Jersey, Daquila said.
You need to file this appeal within 45 days of the date of the county board of taxation’s judgment.
“If your property assessment is more than $1 million or if the added or omitted assessment aggregate assessed valuation exceeds $750,000, you may appeal directly with the Tax Court of New Jersey,” she said. “You always have the option to contact an attorney or a firm that specializes in property tax appeals to assist you with an appeal.”
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