Thomas Mancuso, CTA, SCGREA
Senior Assessing Clerk
Commonly Requested Forms
This form is in addition to the Form DD-214, Armed Forces of the United States Report of Transfer or Discharge, where the DD-214 is not specific about participation in a Peacekeeping Mission
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What does the Tax Assessor do?
A: We are responsible to be certain that each year every parcel of real and personal property in the City of Rahway is listed on the tax rolls and assessed at its fair market value.
Q: What does “Fair Market Value” mean?
A: The majority of property values are based on market value. Market value is generally accepted as being the price which the property would bring following a reasonable exposure to the market, where both the buyer and the seller are willing to buy and sell, are not acting under compulsion, and are reasonably informed as to the uses and purposes for which the property is adapted and is capable of being used. That is a hypothetical willing buyer, who did not have to buy, would pay for your property to a hypothetical willing seller who did not have to sell. We know that you did not buy your home as a speculation, but to live in. But, the actions of people who buy and sell property like yours set the value of your property.
Q: Can the assessment on my property be changed even if the Assessor has not been inside my property?
A: To make a proper assessment on a building, it is desirable for the Assessor to see the inside and the outside of the property. The law requires that property be valued from actual view or the best information available. The Assessor keeps records on the physical characteristics of each property in the city. Even though the Assessor may have been unable to examine your property, the assessment will still be reviewed, based on the existing records and the sales of similar properties.
Q: Will I be penalized if I don’t let the Assessor in when an inspection is requested?
A: When an interior inspection is not allowed, the Assessor will attempt to update the records by looking at the property from the outside and using any other available information. To ensure an accurate assessment, it is to your advantage to allow the Assessor inside your property when an inspection is requested. By denying an inspection, you may lose the right to appeal your assessment.
Q: What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
A: Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessed value. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property:
- Added rooms or garages
- Replacing asbestos or wood siding with vinyl siding
- Substantial modernization of kitchens or bathrooms
- Central air conditioning
- Extensive remodeling
Q: How can my assessment change when I haven’t done anything to my property?
A: General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rates, supply and demand and changes in tax laws will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the marketplace, those changes must be reflected on the assessed value of Rahway’s properties.
Q: Do all assessments change at the same rate?
A: There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area the sales may indicate a substantial increase in value in a given year. In another neighborhood, there may be no change in value, or even a decrease in property values. Different types of properties within the same neighborhood may also show different value changes. There are numerous factors to be considered in each property which will cause the value of homes to differ. Some of these factors are: location, condition, size, quality, and number of baths, basement finish, garages, and many others.
Q: Who sets tax rates?
A: The amount of your tax bill depends on two factors. The first is the assessed value (based on classification) of your property, which is the Tax Assessor’s job. The second is the tax rate, expressed as dollars per hundred, for each taxing entity in which property is located. This rate is set by the established budgets of taxing entities (i.e. county, municipalities, and school boards) in which the property is located. The Union County Board of Taxation then strikes the tax rate from the total amount of taxes needed to be collected.
Q: I disagree with my property assessment and would like to have it reviewed.
A: Due to the volume of assessment related questions this office receives, please schedule an appointment with the Tax Assessor. We are able to assist you more efficiently if you make an appointment
Q: I agree with the land assessment but I disagree with the building assessment. Can I appeal one but not the other?
A: Land and building assessments cannot be appealed separately.
Q: Can I appeal my property tax bill?
A: A tax appeal is not an appeal of your tax bill. The amount of taxes you pay is never an issue during an appeal because neither the Tax Assessor nor the Union County Board of Taxation has control over budgets submitted by municipalities, schools, counties or fire districts.
Q: Can I file my tax appeal form with the Tax Assessor’s Office?
A: No. The municipality cannot accept tax appeals. Your appeal form should be filed with the Union County Board of Taxation.
Q: What is the deadline to file a tax appeal?
A: The filing deadline is April 1 of the tax year in question. This means that the appeal form must be received on or before April 1. Date of mailing is not used in determining whether an appeal is timely.
Q: I am appealing my assessment and want to establish my case by using comparable assessments. Is this acceptable?
A: No. Comparable assessments are not acceptable evidence of the value of your property. You should submit at least three recent comparable sales of other properties of a similar type in the same neighborhood.
Q: I have not applied for a certificate of occupancy but I received an assessment notice.
A: Assessments cannot be avoided by delaying issuance of a certificate of occupancy. If the building is “substantially complete” it is subject to assessment.
Q: I am appealing my assessment and I feel that I should not have to pay my taxes until my appeal is heard and resolved.
A: Payment of first quarter taxes and other municipal charges (e.g., water, sewer, etc.) is a prerequisite to the appeal process. Your appeal will not be accepted unless taxes and other municipal charges are paid.
Q: Can the Tax Assessor and I settle my appeal before the hearing?
A: We will attempt to resolve discrepancies by stipulation if ethically possible. A settlement stipulation completed sufficiently in advance of a scheduled hearing will serve to avoid an unnecessary appearance before the Union County Board of Taxation. However, if the assessment is defensible in our opinion, we will provide you with the evidence that supports our position.
Q: How can I claim a senior citizen and/or veteran property tax reimbursement?
A: The senior citizen and veteran (including widow/er of a veteran) property tax reimbursements are $250 for each. Applications are available at the Tax Assessor’s Office. For more information – including eligibility requirements – please visit the New Jersey Division of Taxation. The deadline for applying for a senior citizen and disabled property tax reimbursement is Dec. 31. The deadline for applying for a veteran property tax reimbursement is Dec. 31. Forms for each are available at the Tax Assessor’s Office.