Property tax in NJ
April 11, 2007 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I just bought what was once a very nice house in Maplewood, NJ (Essex County). It has become very rundown and was assessed by our mortgage company at a value of 340,000 in it's current condition. It was a great deal and after a little work will be amazing. Is there a way to have it's taxation rate changed based on the purchase price? Currently, it's very high. Is there somewhere I can go locally to ask about this? Also, anyone know how the property tax cuts will play out in NJ.
posted by Shanachie to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Are you saying you payed less than 340K? If you did then you may have a legit reason to either have the city reassess for tax purposes, or you can apply for an abatement based on an improper assessment. However some city's assess property only every three or four years. Your property value may be based on comps, and not an actual site visit. Two years ago my house was assessed higher than I thought it should be. I applied for an abatement, and got 30k knocked off the value.
posted by Gungho at 4:16 AM on April 12, 2007

It was a great deal and after a little work will be amazing

... at which point it will probably be eligible for a property-tax increase.
posted by foobario at 4:18 AM on April 12, 2007

Contact the tax assessor.
posted by MarkAnd at 4:47 AM on April 12, 2007

Also, anyone know how the property tax cuts will play out in NJ.

This is an interesting topic. The plan being put in place last week seems, on the surface, to help but there are a number of factors which don't bode well for it:

Funding: Similar, if smaller, plans have failed in the past for lack of funding (think Homestead Rebate). The property tax relief in this bill is funded through at least 2008 but not yet beyond.

Scalar effect: NJ Property taxes have gone up over 30% in the last five years (news programs and editorials like to quite around 35-36%). This relief program is a 20% rebate. Will we be able to do this (cumulatively) again in another 5 years? Assuming continued even growth in both tax rates and rebate programs you're still not going to realize a net reduction.

Dueling Taxers: When you're taxed by two bodies, there is no such thing as tax cut by one that will not be recognized and monetized by the other . . . Municipalities are not dumb. They will eventually raise local taxes to wipe out the rebate. In fact, because the rebate is graduated and clearly defined in advance townships may even begin planning their tax hikes NOW based on last years tax data. You cannot fix a local issue with state money UNLESS the state and local tax rates are somehow in sync. One will always adjust to take advantage of the other and this financial gauge-chasing will only delay the gradual but inevitable hosing of the taxpayer.

Finally, I hate to say this but Maplewood is such a nightmare taxation-wise. I grew up near Plainfield, which in some ways is very similar. Both were (a long time ago) 'summer home' destinations for the rich. Both now have large areas in 'disrepair.' As such they are filled with awesome, cheap, dilapidated Victorian houses begging to be made pretty again. Hard work and investment will make them nice again, but their owners are in for a rude awakening. By leeching off of you, the entrepreneur, the town has created a life support system for the trash neighborhoods. You will be taxed out the ASS to support programs (tax abatement, 'free enterprise' zones) aimed at revitalizing the rest of the town.

Good luck to you and stay the hell out of Irvington :).
posted by datacenter refugee at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2007

You will be receiving unsolicited letters from attorneys offering to help you with this, but you can plead your case yourself to the tax assessor, especially if you paid less than the assessed value.
posted by caddis at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2007

I don't know how it works where you live, but wrote the tax assessment office and pleaded my case. They called me up a month or two later. After about 15 minutes, they actually gave me the full deduction I'd requested. However, I have to go through the process last year, as they insisted that I had probably already fixed up the home since moving in. (Why is the assumption that everyone does this?!)
posted by acoutu at 9:15 AM on April 12, 2007

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