As New Jersey and the surrounding areas begin to regroup following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Spector Foerst & Associates wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those that suffered loss.  Whether it was wind damage, flooding or perhaps a falling tree, property damage was catastrophic in our region.  The value of many homes will be effected by damage or destruction.  In such a circumstance, the law provides that a property owner may apply to the local tax assessor and request special consideration and a reduced tax assessment based on the reduction of value caused by the storm.

Existing law provides that the tax assessment (the basis of your tax bill) is based on the condition of the lot and the improvements (i.e., home, buildings, garage, etc.) as of October 1st of the year preceding the tax year.  In other words, the 2013 property tax bills will be based on the value of the property as of October 1, 2012.  However, under State law, a property with a building or other structure that has been damaged or destroyed by a storm between October 1st and December 31st can have such damage calculated in reducing their assessment even though the damage occurred after the October 1, 2012 assessment valuation date.

As noted above, New Jersey’s statute (N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1) provides:

“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.”

TAKE NOTE:  A property owner must put the tax assessor on notice of such damage and request that the property tax assessment be calculated under the storm exception deadline.  The notice must be served upon the assessor no later than January 10, 2013 to be considered.  Note that the assessor is not obligated to reduce the assessment even if proper notice is given.  In this instance, property owner’s should seek the advice of tax appeal professionals to determine if properties are candidates for a tax reduction through a Tax Appeal.

If you or a friend or family member sustained significant property damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy, please contact our office and discuss how we can help reduce their tax burden in the wake of this horrible disaster.