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Schaefer v. Chatham, 12912-12 - N.J. Tax Court Rejects "Form Over Substance" Dismissal of Tax Appeals

Per The New Jersey Law Journal:

"County boards of taxation have been put on notice that they should refrain from dismissing property owners' appeals of their tax bills except in the most egregious of circumstances.

"Tax Court Judge Vito Bianco, in a decision released Monday, chided the Morris County Board of Taxation for dismissing appeals by two property owners on the ground that the appraisals they submitted failed to overcome the assessments' presumption of validity.

"'[T]he Board's refusal to allow the Taxpayers to proceed with their appeals despite appearances by counsel and appraisers effectively created a situation where the Taxpayers were precluded from satisfying the evidentiary standard needed to avoid a dismissal for lack of prosecution,' Bianco wrote in Schaefer v. Chatham, 12912-12."

From Schaefer v. Chatham, 12912-12:

"[A] county board of taxation may not create a basis to dismiss for lack of prosecution by improperly denying a taxpayer the right to present testimony which may be adequate to avert such a dismissal[...]

"In this court's observation, recent dismissals by the Board for lack of prosecution occur with much too great frequency for a consequence intended to 'be granted only in the most egregious circumstances[...]

"Clearly this is not the envisioned purpose in the tax appeal process that County Boards were intended to have[...]

"[D]ismissing appeals for lack of prosecution on facts as here fall far short of the 'square deal' for every taxpayer Governor Stokes had hoped for[.]"

More after the jump...