Jersey City Property Tax Appeals: A Civic Step-by-Step Overview

For the past 4 years I’ve been researching and writing about property taxes and revaluation (among other topics) on CivicParent. In the past year I’ve also written about tax appeals and I also served on a team of Jersey City Together volunteers in 2017 that helped over 30 residents save over $40,000 in tax expense through successful appeals.

On June 5th I hosted a tax appeals workshop at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to explain revaluation and go over the appeals process. You can download my presentation here. I’ve also created this post as a summary. I hope it’s helpful for residents in understanding the appeals process:

1/ Here’s an infographic to show how to copy data from Tax Record to the Appeal form. It’s fairly straightforward. The main hurdle may be some new, but simple, terminology needed for appeal purposes.

2/ To find your tax record: it should’ve been mailed to you by Jersey City’s Tax Office which maintains all tax records. Contact the Jersey City tax office if you don’t yet have your updated assessment or cannot find your tax record.  The city is responsible for mailing tax post cards to property owners. You can also locate your tax record online here.

3/ To inquire about the appeals process you can contact the Hudson County Tax Board, whose website is here. They also have an active Twitter handle at @HudCoTweet (the benefit of tweeting is that others can also see your questions too!). The County receives all appeals; you file your appeal with the County and they then mediate between you (the taxpayer) and City (e.g. it’s sort of like: the County is judge and taxpayer & city are 2 parties in court…).

4/ File your tax appeal online by ****JUNE 18, 2018**** here.  Hudson County is expecting more appeals this year as compared to previous years given Jersey City’s citywide Revaluation. So don’t expect the County to make exceptions with late appeal filings…instead, expect quick, efficient process since the volume of appeals will be higher than in previous years. Do your homework in advance, be armed with facts and evidence regarding your appeal.

5/Understanding MARKET VALUE of YOUR PROPERTY is the single biggest lever for self-advocacy on appeal. This is because: per state property tax law, your assessment is supposed to equal your market value. Local licensed realtors are key resources in my opinion to help you determine market value. Realtors are NOT ALLOWED to charge you to help determine market value. So…if a realtor asks you for $$$ in exchange for market value analysis, considering finding a different realtor!

6/ If you want to file online but don’t have a computer: go to a local library, contact a local house of worship or civic association, or you can contact me and I can put you in touch with community leaders who are helping their neighbors with appeals. Do the civic legwork; it could save you $$$ in year ahead. Resources exist if none of these options are readily available, e.g. Michael Griffin who helped put together a recent tax appeals workshop I presented at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on June 5th.

7/ A word of caution: appealing is putting your assessment on the County radar. So KNOW YOUR MARKET VALUE before appealing. If you are currently UNDER-assessed, then appealing could lead to a CORRECTION meaning the County can raise your assessment. Do your homework. Understand this process. The County provides a “Tax Appeal Filing Packet” with extensive details about the appeal process.

8/ Contact your local elected representatives for help. They are elected to serve; if you are confused or need help, their job is to help. Contact them
Rolando Lavarro Jr. – At Large (represents entire city)
Pastor Joyce Watterman – At Large (represents entire city)
Daniel Rivera – At Large (represents entire city)
Denise Ridley– Ward A
Mira Prinz-Arey Ward B – Ward B
Richard Boggiano – Ward C
Councilman Michael Yun – Ward D
James Solomon, Ward E Councilperson – Ward E
Jermaine Robinson – Ward F

To find out what ward you live in, enter your street address using this Google Map and you’ll see, via the color coding legend, what ward you live in (this will make sense once you open the map!).

9/It’s important for elected representatives to understand what works/doesn’t work in this process. And what properties are unfairly assessed. For instance, the property owner at 116 Monticello (pictured below) attended my tax appeals workshop and noted various factors of UNFAIRNESS associated with the assessment.

The citywide revaluation was completed on an abbreviated timeline (about 12 months instead of 18+ months); so mistakes and shortcuts (including assumptions) were likely made by the assessment firm (that’s based on my speculation on my part, but also based on conversations I’ve had with officials in the city). If you feel you’re being over-assessed, considering appealing but also escalate the unfairness to your elected reps. Use your voice to self-advocate for tax fairness!

10/ Consult with a real estate attorney (aka lawyer) if you feel you need it (attorneys are the *only* licensed professionals allowed to represent you before County Tax Board on appeal). Attorneys typically only take a fee **if you win** the appeal; this is called a “contingency fee”, i.e. the fee is contingent upon a successful appeal. So if an attorney is trying to take a fee from you upfront, without winning the appeal for you first, consider finding a different attorney. The attorney can AND SHOULD explain this entire process upfront, in layman’s terms so that you are comfortable & confident in understanding this process, so that you can THEN decide if you want to engage vs. appealing on your own.

11/ Finally, you can learn more about the revaluation process in general at my CivicParent site, JerseyCityRevaluation.org. It’s mostly background information at this point, but it may be helpful context.

Good luck & get civic … appeal by June 18th if you’re over-assessed!

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