Tax Court Dismisses Third-Party Appeals for Lack of Jurisdiction

In Westerhold v. Toms River Township (Lead Docket No. 008087-2022) (approved for publication), Tax Court Judge Fiamingo dismissed the 2022 and 2023 third-party tax appeals filed by the plaintiffs seeking to increase the assessments of properties owned by a separate entity. The appeals were first filed by plaintiffs with the County Tax Board and were later appealed to the Tax Court. The municipality moved to dismiss the Tax Court Complaints for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Judge Fiamingo found for the Township and explained that the 2021 amendments to N.J.S.A. 54:3-21 (“Chapter 17”) deprived the county boards from jurisdiction to review third-party appeals. Without said jurisdiction, plaintiffs appeal to the Tax Court was not cognizable. The Tax court transferred the appeals to the Law Division where they will proceed as actions in lieu of prerogative writ. Chapter 17 was primarily enacted to address the exemption of areas of hospitals used by for profit medical providers whose services were exclusively for hospital purposes. In addition to addressing this hospital exemption issue the law also revoked the right of taxpayers with properties in the same County from appealing another taxpayer’s assessment in the New Jersey Tax Court, what has been known as a third party appeal. That prohibition on third party appeals provision of Chapter 17 is being challenged on appeal in a separate matter.