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Stoddard v. Rutgers

24 N.J. Tax 187 (2008)

TAXATION; ASSESSMENTS; UNIVERSITIES — A public university does not bear the burden to show a public purpose for its family housing to qualify for exemption from real property taxation and, alternatively, the statutory authority granted to a public university demonstrates that the family housing serves a public purpose.

A property taxpayer sued to invalidate a local property tax exemption to a state university for apartment buildings used by university graduate students and their families. The taxpayer alleged that taxpayers in the municipality had been unfairly burdened with the costs of providing children living in the school’s family housing with free public school education because of the lack of tax ratables for that housing. The Tax Court reminded the parties that all actions challenging tax exemptions must comply with all applicable statutory requirements. The university filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. It argued that as public entity it did not bear the burden to show a public purpose for its family housing to qualify for exemption, and alternatively, the statutory authority granted to it demonstrated that family housing served a public purpose.

The Tax Court granted the motion to dismiss because it found no assertion of facts in the taxpayer’s pleadings that the family housing was not integral to the mission of the university, or that the university was receiving profits being used for other avenues other than purposes that had been statutorily authorized. It also found no facts alleged in the taxpayer’s complaint that would lead to the conclusion that the family housing was not operated for legitimate university purposes which would qualify for tax exemption under law.


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