MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

Notice to Mercer County Property Owners from Tax Assessor

TRENTON, N.J. - If your property suffered “material damage” as a direct result of Superstorm Sandy, you may qualify for a reduction of your property assessment for 2013. Normally, all properties are valued in the condition in which they existed on October 1 of the pretax year, or as of October 1, 2012 for the upcoming 2013 tax year. There is an exception to this law, which applies when a property suffers “material damage” such as a major fire or other significant damage after October 1 of 2012 and before January 1 of 2013. In such circumstances, the property owner would be required to notify the Tax Assessor of their town in writing, prior to January 10th of 2013, in order to receive an assessment adjustment. However, in the case of this particular storm, the State of NJ has given assessors instructions to actively seek out property owners who may have difficulty providing this notice due to hardship associated with the storm. Written notice is still required, but in some cases the local assessor will able to proactively identify eligible properties and apply an adjustment for those properties which may have been extensively damaged, left uninhabitable or totally destroyed. This is being done in recognition of the extreme hardship placed upon some property owners who have lost their homes or temporarily are unable to occupy their homes.

In Mercer County, because the damages are generally more limited in nature than in the shore townships, the assessors face a difficult task in being able to establish which properties are damaged and to what extent they are damaged. Accordingly, it is important for any property owner who has suffered significant damage to write or email your assessor and let them know your name, address, phone number, block and lot, and the nature and extent of the damages suffered due to this storm. If you have repair cost estimates, let the assessor know and make these estimates readily available to the assessor. You should do this as soon as possible and no later than January 10th of 2013. A form has been prepared which will be of assistance in providing this information and is available at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/commissions/pdfs/tax_materialdamagesandy.pdf.

If you will complete repairs by January 1 of 2013, you do not need to contact the assessor as no adjustment should be made under such a circumstance. However, if you will continue to have a significantly damaged property beyond January 1st, you will want to contact your assessor. There is no other way that any assessor can be certain that they have identified all of the significantly damaged properties in their towns. Finally, please bear in mind that any property receiving a damage adjustment will be subject to an added assessment once the repairs are completed.

If you have any questions on this issue, you may contact your local tax assessor at your municipal offices. A list of Tax Assessors and their office numbers is available at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/commissions/tax/assessors.htm. You may also contact the office of the Mercer County Tax Administrator, at 609-989-6704. Martin M. Guhl, Tax Administrator.

Instructions for Completion of Storm Damage form MDSe

Most of the fields on this form are intended to be self-explanatory, but the following guidelines are provided to assist property owners in completing this form.
  • The form contains interactive fields. Click on “Highlight interactive fields” and you can then fill in information in the shaded areas on the form. When you have completed the form, you can print out the form, add supporting documentation and mail it, scan and email it, or deliver it to your local tax assessor’s office.
  • The line for “Qual.” Is for condominium owners, in other cases leave this line blank.
  • Buildings Affected: Check both boxes if applicable. if you have damage to an accessory structure, identify this structure such as garage, barn, shed, cottage, etc. You may attach additional page(s) as needed.
  • Damage source and type: Check all applicable boxes
  • Damage description: You may attach additional information as required to permit the assessor to make a reasonable adjustment to your property value for 2013. Some of the typical useful information is itemized on lines 6 through 13. Note that photographs of the damage are very helpful, but should be labeled or include descriptive comments so the assessor can understand what area of the structure is depicted in each photograph. It may be necessary for the assessor or a member of the assessor’s staff to visit your property; if this visit also requires an interior inspection of any structure(s), the assessor will attempt to contact you in advance.
  • Estimated Time to Complete: This is only an estimate, not a commitment. You may answer this question as number of months or as a projected completion date if you have one. If you do not intend to repair any structure(s) and intend to demolish and remove a structure, you should inform the assessor of this.
  • Note that permits are required for any repair work including electrical, plumbing or extensive structural work, including work to any bearing walls, or demolition and removal of any structure(s). Contact your local building code officials for permit information.
  • Be sure to submit all information to your municipal assessor’s office as soon as possible, but not later than January 10th, 2013.