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Emil Philibosian and Richard Mirra prevail before New Jersey Supreme Court

01.08.2018

Emil Philibosian and Richard Mirra prevail in matter involving an appeal to the N.J. Supreme Court from the Appellate Division’s of denial of property owner’s motion for interlocutory appeal. This case involved a disgruntled property owner after a Tax Court Order denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgement based upon an allegedly illegal “spot assessment.”  Counsel Philibosian represented the City of New Brunswick, whose Tax Assessor, upon reviewing recent sales of property in the district, noted that Plaintiff’s property was sold (to Plaintiff) for a very high price that seemed out of sync with its prior assessed value. 

The Tax Assessor then prevailed upon the City and Counsel Philibosian to file an appeal of the assessment to the Middlesex County Board of Taxation. Upon review, the Board raised the assessed value significantly. Plaintiff/Taxpayer then appealed to the Tax Court alleging that the assessor’s action was an illegal spot assessment because it applied only to newly purchased properties.  A spot assessment is when a taxing authority picks out certain properties for revaluation/assessment while leaving most of the districts properties untouched.

Counsel Philibosian and Mirra argued that: (1) the New Brunswick Tax Assessor did not single out the properties in question because they were recent sales, but because the prices at which they were sold indicated to him that the prior assessment were significantly contrary, which is not illegal “discrimination” or “spot assessment” and (2) The Tax Assessor’s appeal to the County Tax Board was not an unauthorized unilateral act by the taxing authority, and hence improper, but an appeal to a judicial or quasi judicial body with proper authority to determine property value, which gave plaintiff due process.

The Plaintiff moved for summary judgment in Tax Court, arguing that they were right as a matter of law. The Tax Court ruled that the City’s action was not and illegal spot assessment. Plaintiff moved for reconsideration, and was denied. Plaintiff then made an appeal to the Appellate Division which was denied. Plaintiff then filed motion to appeal to Supreme Court which was denied.

Counsel Philibosian and Mirra prevailed, arguing that a municipal taxing district’s appealing prior tax assessment to the County Tax Board is not an illegal spot assessment and Tax Assessors do have some discretion to review prior assessments and seek adjustments to assessment based in part on recent sales date as long as the recent sale is not in and of itself the reason for seeking an adjustment.

If you would like more information, or are seeking counsel for Transactional Law, please do not hesitate to contact Emil Philibosian at ephilibosian@hoaglandlongo.com or Richard Mirra at rmirra@hoaglandlongo.com, or call (732) 545-4717.