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Martin Allen Argues Tax Appeal Issues Before the NJ Supreme Court

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Martin Allen recently argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Davanne v. Edison. The issue of the case is whether the dismissal of a tax appeal pursuant to Chapter 91 (N.J.S.A.54:4-34) is unconstitutional pursuant to the 8th Amendment of the U S Constitution and its N.J. equivalent as an “excessive fine.” N.J.S.A.54:4-34 provides that a tax assessor may request income and expense information from income producing property owners. If the owner fails to respond, it is precluded, by the Chapter 91 amendment to that law, from filing a tax appeal for the next tax year, subject to its testing the resulting assessment’s reasonableness in a hearing. The taxpayer in this case argued that any difference between the assessments put on the property by the assessor and its opinion of the correct assessment would result in overpayment of taxes that are unconstitutional excessive fines. Mr. Allen argued that taxes are not fines, that the law in question was a procedural mechanism for calculating a tax, that the law provided a due process mechanism for testing the reasonableness of the resulting assessment and therefore the law was constitutional. He also argued that the taxpayer failed to take advantage of a reasonableness hearing, and therefore waived any constitutional argument.

The argument can be seen at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/webcast/archive.htm

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