New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1 allows property owners to request reduced property tax assessments for property damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy. This law was enacted in the response to a severe Nor’easter which hit New Jersey 1962. That storm caused significant property damage and there was no basis in the law for property tax relief for the affected tax payers. This year, that law is being used to assist property owners who have sustained significant property damage. The statute provides in part:
…When 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, …the assessor shall…after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel real property as of…January 1, and assess the same according to such value.
Usually, when a homeowner files a property tax appeal, the appeal is based on the fair market value of the property on October 1st of the preceding year. Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey on October 29, 2012, devastating communities and causing property damage in the United States which has been estimated to exceed $71 billion.
This law is very limited in that it only assists homeowners who have sustained damage between October 1st of the previous year and January 1st of the current tax year. It also requires notification of the assessor by the property owner before January 10 of the current tax year. If a homeowner notified the assessor and filed the appropriate form with supporting documentation prior to the January 10th deadline, the municipality will investigate and issue an assessment.