What to Do If You Think Your Property Tax Is Too High

New Jersey homeowners generally pay property tax each year in four installments. They are due every February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. Owners usually receive the final tax bill itself in July or August.

Property taxes are based on the value of your home. If your home is overvalued, then your taxes may be higher than they should be. Property values are not fixed, and they fluctuate from year to year. If you do not think your property was taxed properly, you can appeal the tax assessment and potentially save hundreds on your property taxes. New Jersey has one of the highest property tax rates in the country, so appealing your tax assessment may be a good idea.

How Property Taxes Are Calculated in New Jersey

Two factors will determine how much you pay in taxes for your home: the commercial value of your home and the applicable tax rate. In New Jersey, your home is taxed at 100% of its “true value,” or market value. This is what the house would sell for if it were put on the market today.

The tax rate is based on where you live because local officials set the applicable rate. Unfortunately, the average taxpayer cannot do much about the tax rate, other than to ensure that elected officials will carefully determine the tax rate by voting for a reasonable candidate. You do have some control over how your home is valued, however.

Checking the Official Tax Records for Your Home

If you are considering appealing your tax assessment, you should start by taking a look at the tax record for your home. A copy of this document is available at the tax assessor’s office. It is critical that this record accurately reflects various statistics about your home because this is the record that tax authorities are using to value the property. Take a hard look at the following attributes:

  • Classification as residential property
  • Size of the home and the lot
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Information regarding improvements
  • Defects mentioned
  • Purchase price
  • Age of the home
  • Applicable tax breaks

If any of this information is incorrect, you should let the tax assessor know so the statistics can be corrected. For example, if you have a leaky basement or questionable roof structure, you may want to mention that information to decrease the taxable value of the home. Sometimes this simple fix can reduce your tax burden.

If you believe the information is correct, but the value is still higher than it should be, you may need to do some additional research. Consider the taxable value of homes similar to yours in a close geographical area. Analyzing the sale prices of similar homes can also help you determine the market value of yours.

An experienced real estate attorney can help you appeal your property tax assessment, and do much of the legwork for you. Contact the Matus Law Firm today to determine your potential legal options.

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