New Jersey’s state constitution mandates county assessors to calculate property taxes using the same laws and rules for everyone. Before they can generate a tax bill, the assessors have to establish the sale price of all taxable property, except farmland, in their jurisdiction. In every county in the state, property taxes are then assessed based on 100 percent of such value. Those taxes are assessed at the same time every year.
In New Jersey, taxes on real property -- land and structures -- are assessed based on their value on the first day of October of the year that precedes the first installment of the tax bill. Your property tax bill is divided into four installments due on February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1.
To calculate your tax bill, New Jersey county assessors have to establish your property’s market value. This type of tax, which considers the value of real property, is known as ad valorem tax. It is based on an estimated price a buyer would likely be willing to pay for the property on October 1. However, the value of land you use for agricultural purposes is calculated according to its productivity, not sale price.
In addition to your property’s market value, assessors look at the cost of providing municipal and county services as well as public education when figuring out your tax bill. To calculate the property tax, the assessor’s office adds up the market value of all taxable real property in its county. The total cost of public programs is then divided by the total value of all properties. The result is the general tax rate used to calculate each individual’s property tax. Your bill is the result of the general tax rate multiplied by your property’s value.
Challenging an Assessment
New Jersey uses a complex equalization system dating back to 1799 that aims at fairly assessing each property owner’s tax. But if you disagree with your tax bill, you may file an appeal to trigger a revision of your property’s assessment. In general, your county’s tax board is the place where you start. But if your assessment is for more than $1 million, you need to file the request with the New Jersey state tax court. Submit your appeal by April 1 or within 45 days of your county's mailing your assessment notification to you, whichever is later. In localities where a district-wide reassessment has taken place, you have until May 1 to appeal your tax bill.
Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.