January Tax Books are filed with the County
· Demolished structures
· New exemptions
· Tax map
· Estimate amounts of veterans approved
· Estimate amount of senior citizens approved
· New construction for Budget Cap purposes
February 1 Notify each taxpayer, by post card, of the current assessment and the previous year’s taxes; include tax appeal information
March 1 Hearings on County Equalization tables
April 1 Deadline for tax appeals
May 20 CountyBoard to certify general tax rates
July 1 Process Building Permits, new property record cards, added assessments
August 1 Deadline for farmland assessment
Defend Tax Appeals
September Complete all added assessment records
October 1 Assessing date for all real property in the District
All required conditions for Veterans Exemption must exist by October 1
File added Assessment List
All Exemptions must be filed with the exceptions of seniors which is due by December 31
December 1 Added assessment appeal deadline
Defend added assessments
Proof tax list
Advertise that the Tax is open for inspection
For useful information on the tax appeal process, click here.
Organization of Local Assessment Functions
The law clearly defines the types or classes of property which must be annually assessed, N.J.S.A. 54:4- 1. The law also specifies that the assessor shall make a list in tabular form of the names of owners in his taxing district, and set down in proper columns opposite each name the description and area of each parcel, sufficient to ascertain its location and extent, and the value of each parcel as determined by him, N.J.S.A. 54:4-24. Some additional records are specifically required such as tax maps, exemption forms and exempt property records.
Exemptions from assessed valuation, when authorized by law, are to be administered in accordance with prescribed statutory procedures. Forms to be used in processing exemptions are only those prescribed by the Director of Taxation, N.J.S.A. 54:4-4.4.
The law or Division of Taxation regulations do not specifically define how the assessor shall organize his office for the performance of his duties. However, whether the assessment work in a specific jurisdiction is performed by one man or an organization of several or many assistants, the assessment work naturally divides itself into several functions. These functions include field appraisal of real property, administration of office record keeping and maintenance and adjustment or appeal functions.
Local Assessment Administration
It is not the purpose of this manual to define or recommend rigid assessment administrative regulations which may vary from time to time depending on changed laws and court decisions. The following is a summary check list description of assessment administration operations. Detailed procedures or requirements of administration are contained in regulations promulgated by the Division of Taxation which have been promulgated to cover certain areas.
(a) Assessment forms and tax maps as required by law and additional essential assessment records.
As stated above, the law and Division of Taxation regulations require certain assessment records to be used and maintained. The County Board of Taxation may also prescribe certain forms and records to be used by assessing officials under their jurisdictions. In addition, the assessment records described in the essential records section of this manual will be invaluable for the assessors' office in the development and maintenance of a sound and equitable assessment system.
(b) Assessment list and duplicate.
N.J.S.A. 54:4-23 and 4-35 provide that the assessor shall assess real property as of October 1 of the pre-tax year and shall complete the work by January 10 following. He shall, on the latter date, attend before the county board of taxation and file his completed assessment list, and a true copy thereof, called the tax duplicate. The assessor's affidavit containing a statement as provided by statute, N.J.S.A. 54:4-36, is also filed at this time. The county board then examines the list and makes any revisions or corrections.
(c) Preparation of added and omitted assessment list, and property previously exempt.
N.J.S.A. 54:4-63.2 et seq. requires the preparation of an added assessment list in instances where property not needed for public use has been sold by a municipality or where improvements are made upon properties during the tax year.
The Assessors Handbook published by the Local Property and Public Utility Branch sets forth a timetable for performance of the various administrative provisions of this law.
N.J.S.A. 54:4-63.26 to 30 contains provisions for the assessment of property previously exempt while N.J.S.A. 54:4-63.12 to 23 embraces the correlative law with respect to omitted property.
The Assessors Handbook sets forth the step-by-step procedures and calendar for processing omitted assessments.
(d) Exempt property - determination of eligibility, and filing of property list.
The basic laws concerning property which is exempt by the legislature are contained in N.J.S.A. 54:4-3 to 54:4-4.4.
(e) Defense of assessments under appeal by assessor with assistance of municipal solicitor.
N.J.S.A. .54:2-33 to 54:2-43 prescribes the appellate procedure which any aggrieved taxpayer or taxing district may take.
The assessor should contest all appeals by the taxpayer against his assessments before the CountyBoard of Taxation. Failure to do this can cost his community substantial tax revenue and may upset the uniformity of assessments in the class of property affected. All too often an assessor fails to contest an appeal, believing that an insignificant amount of money is involved, not realizing that a lowered assessment on a particular property may be the binding basis for numerous other reductions in assessments.
Where a reduction is in order, in the opinion of the assessor, he should appear before the county board and testify to the facts as he knows them in order that the board may have the benefit of his knowledge to weigh against the appellant's statements. Failure to do this may result in an excessive reduction.
When appeals involve large assessments or peculiar circumstances, the assessor should promptly notify the municipal attorney so that the interest of the district may be protected. When required, competent expert witnesses may be called upon by authorization of the governing body to substantiate the values and the assessment.
It is not in criticism of these boards to advise assessors to scrutinize reductions or exemptions which they believe to be of questionable merit and bring them to the attention of their municipality for possible appeal before the State's Division of Tax Appeals. All of the facts, as pointed out above, may not have been presented to the Board clearly, thus resulting in a judgment which may not only be out of order, but also set an undesirable pattern for other assessments. Appeals by the taxpayer to the Division of Tax Appeals should be contested with the aid of the municipal attorney. There are few assessors who have the training and experience to successfully present their case alone and stand up to the cross-examination of the taxpayer's counsel.
(f) Important dates to the tax assessor.
Law and regulations require the assessor to perform various portions of his work according to a definite time schedule. The Annual Report of the Division of Taxation contains a local property tax work calendar which is helpful to the assessor in planning his work and in meeting the various legal critical dates.
(g) EDP, Machine Accounting and Modern Office Methods
The extent of an assessor's need for mechanical equipment varies as to the size of his taxing district and the number and types of items on his tax list. However, as a matter of general policy, every possible mechanical device should be utilized to free the assessor from time consuming clerical work in the office for more time in the field which is productive of increased and more equitable ratables. Modern office machines not only save time but also minimize the number of errors.
Every assessor should have ready access to an adding machine or calculator. While it may be possible to use the manual as an appraisal tool without a calculator, it will be impractical to do so.
The New Jersey Property Tax System (NJPTS) has been mandated by the Director, Division of Taxation for use by all taxing districts. The NJPTS, often referred to as the "4-Line System", is a set of programs. Making minimum use of its capabilities will produce:
The Tax List and Duplicate, Extended Tax Duplicate, Added Assessment List, Omitted Assessment Lists, Alphabetic Index of Owners, page totals recapitulations, A district summary (SR-3) breakdown by property class and the extension necessary for all of the lists.
When an assessor is ready to make fuller use of the NJPTS he can enter, compare and retrieve more than 35 property characteristics to aid him in the appraisal of properties.
Partial or complete mechanization of the assessor's office, as a separate installation, or tied in with the machine accounting system in the tax collector's office has been effected in many municipalities throughout the State.
Public Relations Practices
Outstandingly important in the program for equitable assessments, is sound public relations between the assessor and municipal officials and the taxpayers. This cannot be stressed too strongly in connection with the initiation and carrying out of a revaluation program and its continued administration. The cooperation of the assessing office with both the individual taxpayer and citizen groups is important. This insures wider understanding and support of systematic and equalized property assessments.
Good public relations require that the assessing official obtain and hold the respect and confidence of the taxpayers. Such respect and confidence is generated with the use of efficient, impartial, and business-like methods and procedures. The assessor or his staff, when on assignment to their field or office work, act as official representatives of the tax district. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that in all contact with property owners, tenants, and others, that they so conduct themselves as to reflect credit to the organization and the work in which they are engaged.
In any case where an owner or occupant is not clear about the purpose of field inspections and is not prepared to permit the inspection of his property, the assessor or deputy should explain briefly the object and use of such field records. Such explanation will, in most instances, result in obtaining permission to proceed.
Information furnished on the cost or appraised value of individual properties should be treated as confidential. Such information is for the property record only, and should not be discussed or used for any other purpose.
A revaluation project involving the reappraisal and reassessment of every parcel of real property for the purpose of fairly distributing the tax burdens amongst all property owners within a municipality is often desirable. This is particularly true in cases where the municipality's assessment system has not been maintained or 'where maintenance has lagged.
A revaluation project is an expensive undertaking in the nature of a capital expenditure. Therefore, the municipal and assessing officials should be fully aware of the need for revaluation. This need is often indicated by many factors. Among these factors are the wide variations in assessed value to sale value ratios, the growth of the municipality in recent years, the lack of property records, tax maps, and uniform appraisal and assessment procedures, and evidence of properties missing from the assessment roll. Another, but less important factor, is the number and nature of complaints and number of appeals to the CountyBoard resulting in adjustments.
Conducting a revaluation is a difficult task requiring sound public relations, public support, trained personnel and organization. The Local Property and Public Utilities Branch, will, upon request, provide advice and will discuss alternate approaches with assessors and municipal officials considering a revaluation.
Frequently, municipalities require the services of outside appraisal firms to perform this task.
Under the provisions of Chapter 424, Laws of 1971 (N.J.S.A. 54:1-35.35, et seq) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, standards have been established to be used in determining the qualifications of persons or businesses under consideration by a municipality to perform a revaluation. Under the law, any contract proposal must be reviewed and approved by the Director of Taxation.
Qualifications of an Assessor
Assessors are appointed individually and must fulfill the requirements for State certification pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:1-35.25, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-146, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-148.
Duties and Responsibilities
Appraisal: Performance of this duty of the Assessor involves determining the taxability and fair market value of all new, existing and improved properties within the municipality. Procedures used include:
Administration: Administrative responsibilities of the Assessor include:
- Field inspection
- Structural measurement
- Sales analysis
- Market trend studies
- Income and Expense Analysis
Responsibility of Governing Body
- Maintaining and updating assessment records.
- Tax map maintenance in conjunction with the municipal engineer.
- State mandated regulations:
A. Sales analysis for equalization of school aid.
B. Processing of applications for exemptions or deductions including veterans, Senior Citizens, Disabled Persons and other legally tax-exempt properties.
C. Inspection of properties and determination of Farmland Assessment applications.
- Defense of assessment appeals.
This product of the Assessor’s efforts is the basis for the largest source of locally generated revenue. The assessment figure is an important part of determining the local share of school and county taxes. Total Ratable value is also vital to the borrowing capacity of the municipality.
Many other governmental functions depend on the Assessor’s records for accurate up-to-date information, such as Planning, Zoning and Construction Code enforcement.
Since the Legislature granted the power to local government to appoint only Certified Assessors, this is their most important function. Once the position is filled by a qualified individual, the governing body should support the Assessor in the proper performance of his statutory responsibilities to the County Board of Taxation and the Director of the Division of Taxation by providing the following items:
- Adequate compensation and operating funds.
- Sufficient office and storage space.
- Office equipment, including fire-resistant cabinets.
- Field equipment for property inspection and measurement.
- Qualified professional assistance.