Tax Court Prefers Quantitative, Not Qualitative Adjustments

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
11 Aug 2014

Another County Tax Board judgment was affirmed after the property owner and the municipality both failed to overcome the presumption of correctness of the assessment with evidence that was “definite, positive and certain in quality and quantity. . . .” MSGW Real Estate Fund, LLC v. Borough of Mountain Lakes, 18 N.J. Tax 364, 373 (Tax Ct. 1998). The Middlesex County Board of Taxation reduced the assessment on two multi-family homes following evidence presented by the parties. Appeals were filed to the Tax Court, and both parties presented expert witnesses.

At trial, plaintiff’s expert presented three comparable sales that were in the same neighborhood as the subject properties. The expert testified that did not provide adjustments in dollar amounts to any comparables for various elements of comparison on grounds that this was not required when using qualitative adjustments, an accepted appraisal methodology, so that the Subject/comparables will mirror the market. The Township’s assessor utilized the comparable sales approach, also without making any adjustments to the comparables on the grounds that none were required. The Tax Court rejected the methodology applied here, and stated that “what is amorphous to the court is how the expert concluded that $250,000 is that amount. Was it based on his experience and expertise? But courts require an expert’s opinion be based on more than this.” Because the experts failed to provide the “whys and wherefores” of their opinions, the Tax Court affirmed the assessment since there was no credible objective evidence in the record.

A copy of the Tax Court’s unpublished opinion in Ganjoin (34 Highland Avenue) v.Township of Woodbridge can be found here.

A copy of the Tax Court’s unpublished opinion in Ganjoin (308 Avenel Street) v.Township of Woodbridge can be found here.

For more on overcoming the presumption of correctness, please see the following blog posts:

Unreliable Testimony Dooms Taxpayer’s Appeal

Taxpayer Fails to Overcome “Presumption of Correctness”

Appraiser’s Subjective Adjustments Rejected; Owner Loses Appeal

Limited sales data and lack of reasonable adjustments does not doom plaintiff’s appeal