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Bida v. Township of Wayne

A-0170-10T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2011) (Unpublished)

TAXATION; APPEALS — Even if a property owner discovers that the tax assessor made a mistake in assessing its property as if it had been improved, when it had not been improved, if it fails to have filed an appeal with the County Board of Taxation, the Tax Court lacks jurisdiction to consider an appeal.

A land use board granted a homeowner’s application for a variance. However, the homeowner did not make the improvements. A subsequent tax assessment was based upon the municipal tax assessor’s mistaken impression that the property had been improved. The homeowner failed to appeal in a timely manner. Instead, the homeowner filed a complaint directly with the Tax Court seeking relief pursuant to the Correction of Errors statute. In addition, the homeowner advised the tax assessor that he had only received a variance for the property and not a building permit. In response, the tax assessor modified the next tax assessment. The lower court found it undisputed that the tax assessor mistakenly believed that the homeowner had received a building permit, but that fact did not necessarily warrant relief under the statute. It further found that the homeowner failed to demonstrate that the correct assessment on the subject property was readily subject to calculation.

The homeowner appealed, contending there was no basis for the disputed tax assessment, since no building permit had been issued and no improvements undertaken. Moreover, the homeowner contended there was no other property in the vicinity of his property that was assessed for a similar amount. As such, the homeowner contended that he was entitled to a reversal of the lower court decision.

The Court ruled against the homeowner, finding that, having failed to file an appeal with the County Board of Taxation, the homeowner divested the Tax Court of jurisdiction to consider the appeal and therefore a dismissal of the complaint was required because of this lack of jurisdiction. The record did not present a readily correctable assessment; thus, the lower court did not have jurisdiction under the statute to hear the appeal.

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