Presumption of Validity- Taxpayers Bear the Burden

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck|June 8, 2013

Many people are aware that in a tax year in which neither a revaluation nor reassessment has occurred, in order to prevail in a real property tax appeal, the Taxpayer must prove that the true market valuation placed upon the property by the assessment exceeds its real value by at least fifteen percent (15%). 
Presumption of Validity- Taxpayers Bear the Burden

Presumption of Validity- Taxpayers Bear the Burden

Many people are aware that in a tax year in which neither a revaluation nor reassessment has occurred, in order to prevail in a real property tax appeal, the Taxpayer must prove that the true market valuation placed upon the property by the assessment exceeds its real value by at least fifteen percent (15%). 

By statute, each assessment is accorded a fifteen percent (15%) safe harbor in recognition of the fact that appraisals and assessments are not an exact science.  However, an additional burden placed upon the Taxpayer is to overcome a presumption that the assessment is valid.  Without overcoming this presumption, the Taxpayer is not even permitted to prove the fifteen percent (15%) or greater differential.

In a recent decision, Dericks v. Borough of Bradley Beach (Docket #13772-2012 J. Sundar), the Tax Court reviewed the appeal of the Taxpayer from a County Board Judgment that reduced the assessed value on a condominium from Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000.00) to Three Hundred Nine Thousand Dollars ($309,000.00).  The Taxpayer urged the Court to find a further reduction to Two Hundred Forty-Five Thousand Dollars ($245,000.00) and the Town also appealed seeking a reinstatement of the original assessed value.  In reviewing the proofs presented, the Court rejected the comparables and the adjustments provided by both parties.  While both parties agreed that a certain particular unit sale was an appropriate comparable sale, the Court found both parties reasoning flawed when adjusting that sale to utilize it for comparability purposes as to the subject property.  Moreover, the Town offered only one (1) other property as a comparable and the Taxpayer offered none.

Based upon the paucity of information available before the Court, the Court felt constrained to leave the judgment of the County Board intacted holding that such proofs were insufficient to overcome the presumption of validity.

This case is instructive to any residential property owner attempting to challenge the assessment on his/her home.  To overcome the presumption of validity, you must give the Court the ability to find that there is something dramatically wrong with the assessment.  This is done by providing sufficient comparable sales along with adjustments of those sales to make them relevant to your property.  Adjustments include raising or lowering the assessment based upon size of the property, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, age of the kitchen, size of the land and other relevant matters that would influence valuation.  In small matters such as a residential appeal where typically a taxpayer is unrepresented by counsel, the Taxpayer is going unarmed against a professional in the form of the local tax assessor.  The more information you can provide to the Court, the better equipped you will be to overcome the presumption of validity and be permitted to prove your case.


  • Share:

AboutScarinci Hollenbeck

With a growing practice of more than 60 experienced attorneys, Scarinci Hollenbeck is a regional alternative to a National 250 law firm. With offices in New Jersey, New York City, and the District of Columbia, we serve the niche practice areas most often required by institutions, corporations, entities, and the people who own and control them.Full Biography

Get In Touch

* The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

Share this article


Get the latest from our attorneys!

Please fill out our short form to get the latest articles from the Scarinci Hollenbeckattorneys weekly on the cutting-edge legal topics.

Presumption of Validity- Taxpayers Bear the Burden

Presumption of Validity- Taxpayers Bear the Burden
Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck

By statute, each assessment is accorded a fifteen percent (15%) safe harbor in recognition of the fact that appraisals and assessments are not an exact science.  However, an additional burden placed upon the Taxpayer is to overcome a presumption that the assessment is valid.  Without overcoming this presumption, the Taxpayer is not even permitted to prove the fifteen percent (15%) or greater differential.

In a recent decision, Dericks v. Borough of Bradley Beach (Docket #13772-2012 J. Sundar), the Tax Court reviewed the appeal of the Taxpayer from a County Board Judgment that reduced the assessed value on a condominium from Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000.00) to Three Hundred Nine Thousand Dollars ($309,000.00).  The Taxpayer urged the Court to find a further reduction to Two Hundred Forty-Five Thousand Dollars ($245,000.00) and the Town also appealed seeking a reinstatement of the original assessed value.  In reviewing the proofs presented, the Court rejected the comparables and the adjustments provided by both parties.  While both parties agreed that a certain particular unit sale was an appropriate comparable sale, the Court found both parties reasoning flawed when adjusting that sale to utilize it for comparability purposes as to the subject property.  Moreover, the Town offered only one (1) other property as a comparable and the Taxpayer offered none.

Based upon the paucity of information available before the Court, the Court felt constrained to leave the judgment of the County Board intacted holding that such proofs were insufficient to overcome the presumption of validity.

This case is instructive to any residential property owner attempting to challenge the assessment on his/her home.  To overcome the presumption of validity, you must give the Court the ability to find that there is something dramatically wrong with the assessment.  This is done by providing sufficient comparable sales along with adjustments of those sales to make them relevant to your property.  Adjustments include raising or lowering the assessment based upon size of the property, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, age of the kitchen, size of the land and other relevant matters that would influence valuation.  In small matters such as a residential appeal where typically a taxpayer is unrepresented by counsel, the Taxpayer is going unarmed against a professional in the form of the local tax assessor.  The more information you can provide to the Court, the better equipped you will be to overcome the presumption of validity and be permitted to prove your case.