Superstorm Sandy and New Jersey Property Tax Appeals

This time every year is Property Tax Appeal season. My office gears up in January to help New Jersey residents obtain some level of relief from these oppressive property tax bills, and this year is no different.

What is different this year is the fact that so many properties, whether primary residences or vacation homes, were damaged or even washed away by Superstorm Sandy.

One question I’ve received several times this year is what to do, property tax-wise when properties were affected by Superstorm Sandy? It just so happens that in New Jersey, there’s a statute for that:

54:4-35.1 – Material depreciation of structure between October 2 and January 1; determination of value.

“When any parcel of real property contains any building or other structure which has been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished, or altered in such a way that its value has materially depreciated, either intentionally or by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, or earthquake, or other casualty, which depreciation of value occurred after October first in any year and before January first of the following year, the assessor shall, upon notice thereof being given to him by the property owner prior to January tenth of said year, and after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel of real property as of said January first, and assess the same according to such value.”  L.1945, c. 260, p. 789, s. 1.

Ordinarily, a property tax appeal deals with the value of the property as of October 1 of the prior year. For example, all appeals filed this year will argue over what the value of the property was as of October 1, 2012. Well, we all know that Sandy didn’t hit until October 29, 2012. The good news (if you can call it that) is that due to widespread devastation, municipalities have taken it upon themselves to perform a post-storm “reassessment” of the distressed properties. If you live in an area that was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, you should have received an updated assessment postcard from your municipality. Many towns, such as Toms River, have received an extension, and their postcards will be mailed on or around April 15, 2013.

The bad news is that every municipality is handling it differently and some are more organized and willing to give information than others. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR TAX ASSESSOR/TAX COLLECTOR AND FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON WITH REASSESSMENTS IN YOUR PARTICULAR TOWN.

If you receive your reassessment card, and you are not happy with the reassessment you are given, contact our office immediately to file an appeal. Some municipalities are giving an extension on the appeal filing date, but if nothing is said, assume that the deadline to file an appeal is April 1, like a normal year.

We are offering a discounted rate for homeowners whose property was adversely affected by Sandy, so please don’t hesitate to call (732) 444-6406 or email

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