Deadlines Matter: NJ County Tax Board Wins Case Due to Untimeliness

Deadlines Matter: NJ County Tax Board Wins Case Due to Taxpayer’s UntimelinessA recent decision by the New Jersey Tax Court highlights that compliance with filing deadlines can dramatically impact the outcome of a case. In Mikhail v. Township of Howell, the court dismissed a resident’s complaint with the Monmouth County Board of Taxation for being one day late.

The Facts of the Case

After being assessed $425,000, the plaintiff filed a timely complaint with the Monmouth County Board of Taxation (County Board). By judgment dated June 28, 2013, the County Board affirmed the assessment. The judgment noted that it was “entered and mailed” on July 18, 2013.

Plaintiff certified that she received the judgment on July 24, 2013 by regular mail. She then filed an appeal from the County Board judgment with the New Jersey Tax Court on September 6, 2013. She contended that the deadline for filing did not expire until September 7, 2013, and thus, her complaint was timely.

The Relevant Law

The case hinges on several New Jersey statutes and rules. N.J.S.A. 54:51A-9(a) provides that complaints seeking review of an adjudication or judgment of the county board of taxation shall be filed with the Tax Court within 45 days of the service of the judgment.

Pursuant to R. 8:4-1(a)(4), service of the judgment of the County Board, when by mail, is complete on the date the judgment is mailed. However, this is “subject to the provisions of R. 1:3-3.” R. 1:3-3 states that “when service of a notice or paper is made by ordinary mail, and a rule or court order allows the party served a period of time after the service thereof within which to take some action, 3 days shall be added to the period.”

The Court’s Decision

The Tax Court ultimately dismissed the complaint. It specifically rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the 45-day time limit begins to run from the date of receipt of the County Board judgment.

As explained in the opinion, “Law is settled that the 45-day time limit to file a complaint to the Tax Court begins from the date of mailing of the County Board judgment, not from the date the judgment is received by the taxpayer. Therefore, plaintiff’s complaint which is late by one day is untimely.”

As this case highlights, municipalities and local tax boards should always carefully review complaints and other legal filings for compliance with applicable deadlines. In some situations, it may lead to a resolution in your favor.

For more information about this case or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.


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