In a recent unpublished opinion, Newton West Ltd. v. Town of Newton, the Tax Court denied a motion for the application of the Freeze Act, N.J.S.A. 54:51A-8. Under the Freeze Act, a judgment by the Tax Court is “conclusive upon the municipal assessor” for the year under appeal and the next two years immediately thereafter. In other words, the assessment is frozen for two years following the judgment. There is an exception to the act where there has been a revaluation or complete reassessment of all real property in the municipality.
In this case, the plaintiff, Newton West Ltd., owner of a 169 unit apartment complex, sought a judgment under the Freeze Act for tax years 2011 and 2012 based upon a 2010 Tax Court judgment. The Town of Newton opposed the motion arguing there was a complete reassessment of all property within the town for the 2011 tax year and, as such, the property owner was not entitled to protection under the Freeze Act. Newton West argued that the 2011 reassessment was not a “complete reassessment” although the opinion does not provide the specific basis for the Newton West’s position.
The opinion does however go into detail regarding the Town’s argument that it met the necessary preconditions for a reassessment. There was a public hearing before the Sussex County Board of Taxation (the “Board”) in September of 2010; a month later, the Board approved the Town’s application for the reassessment; the governing body for the Town of Newton adopted a resolution authorizing the reassessment; and the State Division of Taxation approved the reassessment contract.
Therefore, the Court held the application of the Freeze Act to the 2011 and 2012 tax years was not appropriate and denied Newton West’s motion.
A copy of the court’s decision in Newton West Ltd. v. Town of Newton may be found here.