Planet Princeton

Bill Would Prohibit Taxpayers from Challenging Others’ Property Valuations and Exemptions in New Jersey

State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.
State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.

A bill will be considered by a New Jersey Assembly committee this afternoon that would prohibit residents from challenging the tax valuations and tax exemptions of properties other than their own.

Residents would no longer be able to challenge property assessments they think are too low, like Princeton residents did after the town-wide property revaluation in 2010.

They would also be unable to challenge the tax-exempt status of properties in court, meaning a lawsuit like the current one in which residents are challenging the tax-exempt status of Princeton University properties could never be filed.

The bill will be reviewed at 2 p.m. today, Sept. 19, in committee room 13 on the fourth floor of the State House in Trenton.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) is sponsoring the bill. The companion bill in the State Senate, S2212, is being sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth/Ocean). Singer is the same senator who sponsored legislation in 2012 that would have exempted private colleges and universities from having to receive local planning and zoning approvals for construction projects.

Gusciora could not be reached for comment on the bill this morning.

Currently, a taxpayer who questions the assessed valuation or exempt status of the taxpayer’s property can file an appeal with the county board of taxation or file a complaint with the state tax court if the assessed valuation of the property subject to the appeal exceeds $1 million.

“Property tax appeals, however, can be costly and create uncertainty in local government finances.  This bill would reduce property tax appeals by limiting property taxpayers to filing property tax appeals concerning their own property,” reads the bill statement.

“As the representatives of all local taxpayers, local governments are the best and most properly suited parties to challenge the assessment or exempt status of a property whenever the owner is not involved,” reads the statement. “Accordingly, the bill would not disturb the ability of local governments to appeal the assessment or exempt status of any property in the county.”

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • The politics at play here at so bloody apparent. I think someone at Princeton University talked in the ear of somebody or made some large donation to someone’s campaign to get this bill introduced.

  • Alexi Assmus

    The power of large non-profit and for-profit institutions working together with government has become too great in our country, and there needs to be push back by individual citizens to right the balance. This bill is going the wrong way. It would take away even the legal right — which is so skewed in favor of those who have the funds to pay for legal battles — of citizens to challenge large institutions in how taxes are assessed between private citizens and powerfully large entities.

  • FreshAir

    Not giving anyone a negative label… just wondering… Is it even legal under our Constitution to limit the rights of citizens to request a formal inquiry into any tax levy created by government? This Bill seems to contradict the efforts of our Nation’s founders. With all the problems in NJ today, it’s sad that Legislators would spend even one moment to advance a bill that seeks to limit the rights of tax-paying citizens.

  • George Evers

    We need the right to shine the spotlight on government crony favoritism for transparency sake. As a service to those over assessed, a limited power of attorney to appeal a neighbors or clients property tax helps overcome the over-assessment the con game.

  • Caroline Blose

    Once again these politicians are trying to protect their own. Nothing but corruption and good ole boy government. Not for the people or equality for the people. Just another way to protect their buddies and themselves from being caught. Local guy challenged the assessed value of an assessor in New Jersey, since it was way lower than all the other homes around it. This bill would protect criminals like this that use their position to benefit themselves. Wake up people of New Jersey, you are being conned.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    And the assemblyman ws not available for comment, how convenient!

  • ComputoJon

    This bill makes no sense at all, nor do the weak arguments put forth as justification. I’m surprised and dismayed that the Assemblyman is sponsoring it.

  • WhatInTheWorldz

    This stinks of kick backs and corruption to me. Does the assemblyman really think no one can see through this? Vote him out.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    Yeah, right…. Fighting for his constituents, sure. What a disgrace, not even available for comments…..Not one penny for his campaign, not one vote for him. Time to go.

  • Princeton Pauper

    When the Princeton revaluation took place I recall looking up the assessments for the 5 or 6 people on the committee who oversaw the consultant doing the work. I was not so surprised to see that 4 or 5 saw a sizable reduction in their assessments. Legislation like this that seeks to limit the opportunity to allow for checks and balances only further creates an atmosphere ripe with cronyism, political favoritism, and special interest groups with deep pockets. This goes to show that our system works….at least for some.

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