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NJ now has a ‘bill of rights’ for taxpayers — Here’s what you need to know

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Let the celebration begin.

New Jersey, the state with the highest property taxes in the country, now has an official Property Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Legislation passed by the state Assembly and Senate and signed by Gov. Chris Christie requires the Division of Taxation to develop and publish online a bill of rights that explains, in simple to understand language, the right that every property taxpayer has to understand their tax assessment, and how to appeal the assessment if they believe it’s too high.

“The thing we’ve heard over and over again is the need to help with property taxes. We’re being killed with taxes,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, D-Monmouth, one of the prime sponsors of the legislation.

She pointed out in order to lower property taxes, “many layers that have to be worked on, but in the meantime, it’s important to understand your tax assessment and be able to challenge it if you think it’s unfair.”

She said many people don’t understand how their taxes are assessed, and they don’t know what their rights are.

“This information should be available to all taxpayers in understandable terms, not legalese, not the statute language that we read, the kinds of things that people just don’t understand.”

Downey said the bill of rights will explain “how it is that the real property assessments are done, how their taxes are calculated, and then the detailed information about they can go about to appeal.”

NJ property tax appeals down more than half in 3 years

The Property Taxpayer Bill of Rights states property taxpayers in New Jersey have the following rights:

• The right to understand the property assessment process and the requirements of the state Constitution concerning the assessment of real property;
• The right to understand the calculation of the assessment on their property;
• The right to detailed information about how to appeal an assessment of property; and
• The right to view the property assessment of any other parcel of property in the municipality.

The new law stipulates the bill of rights needs to be posted on each county’s Board of Taxation website, and all New Jersey municipalities that have their own webpage.

She said with this new reader friendly information, homeowners may not be thrilled about paying sky-high taxes, “but at least they understand where it’s coming from, why it’s happening, not just that they’re pulling numbers out of the air.”

Another prime sponsor, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, D-Camden, said the bill of rights is a valuable resource tool.

“It’s important to understand in the State of New Jersey you cannot appeal your taxes but you can appeal the assessed value of your home, which is incorporated in your property taxes,” she said.

“The way property taxes are calculated in the state of New Jersey is very confusing, and this is a good way to have residents understand what goes into the calculation of their property taxes, why their property taxes are as high as they are.”

She added people need to be able to understand their property taxes and challenge their assessment if they think it’s too high.

“Four times out of a year, people are very upset they have to pay property taxes. It’s a very tough time, people don’t like paying taxes, everybody gets angry,” she said.

Another prime sponsor, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D- Monmouth, said the new law will ensure that property taxpayers have the information they need to file an appeal if they’re not happy with their current assessment.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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