Appeal from Dismissal of Exemption Claim Permitted Late in the Game

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
7 Jan 2014

A property owner’s motion to dismiss a complaint filed by a municipality was recently denied in Twp. of Cranbury v. Princeton Ballet Society.  Princeton Ballet Society (“PBS”) moved to dismiss the complaint filed by Cranbury, suggesting that it was filed past the statute of limitations to do so.  The Township’s complaint alleged that PBS’s property was not exempt from local property taxation.  At issue was whether the date to file the complaint ran from the time that the Middlesex County Board of Taxation issued its initial judgment in the matter, or from the time of an amended judgment nearly 2 months later.  The Township argued that the time to file its appeal began from the date that the amended judgment was mailed.  PBS argued that the time should be counted from the date the original judgment was mailed because the amended judgment did not materially or substantively change the original judgment.

The Township argued that there was a substantive difference between the two judgments because the first judgment failed to recognize the property as tax exempt, which was corrected in the second judgment, and that distinction created the appealable issue for the Township.  PBS argued that both judgments dismissed the Township’s petition without prejudice due to pending prior year appeals, and that the distinction was immaterial.  The Tax Court agreed with the Township that the exemption information was required to form the basis of an appeal to the Tax Court.  The amended judgment sought to be consistent of the denial of the relief sought by the Township, which was the imposition of an assessment.  Since the denial was only accomplished in the amended judgment, the time limit did not begin to run until the amended judgment was mailed.   Thus, PBS’s motion to dismiss the Township’s complaint was denied.

A copy of the Tax Court’s opinion in Twp. of Cranbury v. Princeton Ballet Society may be found here.

For more blog posts on cases involving motions to dismiss an appeal, please see the following:

Property Owner’s Appeal Dismissed for Failure to Follow Court Rules

NJ Supreme Court: Failure to Name Correct Plaintiff Not Fatal to Tax Appeal

Expert’s “Gut Feeling” Survives Dismissal Claim

Calendaring Mistake By Attorney Not Worthy of Dismissal at County Board Hearing