If your property suffered “material damage” as a direct result of Superstorm Sandy, you may qualify for a reduction of your property assessment for 2013.
Normally, all properties are valued in the condition in which they existed on Oct. 1 of the pretax year, or as of Oct. 1, 2012 for the upcoming 2013 tax year. There is an exception to this law, which applies when a property suffers “material damage” such as a major fire or other significant damage after Oct. 1, 2012, and before Jan. 1 of 2013.
In such circumstances, the property owner would be required to notify the tax assessor of their town in writing, prior to Jan. 10, 2013, in order to receive an assessment adjustment. However, in the case of this particular storm, the State of New Jersey has given assessors instructions to actively seek out property owners who may have difficulty providing this notice due to hardship associated with the storm.
Written notice is still required, but in some cases the local assessor will able to proactively identify eligible properties and apply an adjustment for those properties which may have been extensively damaged, left uninhabitable or totally destroyed. This is being done in recognition of the extreme hardship placed upon some property owners who have lost their homes or temporarily are unable to occupy their homes.
In Mercer County, because the damages are generally more limited in nature than in the shore townships, the assessors face a difficult task in being able to establish which properties are damaged and to what extent they are damaged.
Accordingly, it is important for any property owner who has suffered significant damage to write or email your assessor and let them know your name, address, phone number, block and lot, and the nature and extent of the damages suffered due to this storm.
If you have repair cost estimates, let the assessor know and make these estimates readily available to the assessor. You should do this as soon as possible and no later than Jan. 10, 2013.
A form has been prepared which will be of assistance in providing this information and is available at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/commissions/pdfs/tax_materialdamagesandy.pdf.
If you will complete repairs by Jan. 1, 2013, you do not need to contact the assessor as no adjustment should be made under such a circumstance. However, if you will continue to have a significantly damaged property beyond Jan. 1, you will want to contact your assessor.
There is no other way that any assessor can be certain that they have identified all of the significantly damaged properties in their towns. Finally, please bear in mind that any property receiving a damage adjustment will be subject to an added assessment once the repairs are completed.
If you have any questions on this issue, you may contact your local tax assessor at your municipal offices. A list of Tax Assessors and their office numbers is available at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/commissions/tax/assessors.htm.
You may also contact the office of the Mercer County Tax Administrator, at 609-989-6704.
- Martin M. Guhl, Mercer County Tax Administrator