The redevelopment of vacant and blighted parcels has been a cumbersome, frustrating and, in many cases unsuccessful, process for municipalities and developers alike. Pennsylvania’s new land bank legislation could change all that. Philadelphia, with its own land bank legislation is poised to take advantage of the state legislation.
Category: Tax Abatement
All in favor of residential property tax relief, raise your hand! And, if you own an eligible home in the City of Philadelphia, apply now. The City is offering its residential homeowners the opportunity to apply for a Homestead Exemption. The Homestead Exemption would reduce the assessed value of an eligible home by $15,000 or more, and consequently lower the real estate taxes owed by the homeowner because the homeowner would pay real estate tax only on the reduced assessment.
Crucial to New Jersey’s Five-Year Exemption and Abatement Law is the time within which an application for the tax exemption or abatement must be filed with the municipal tax assessor. A recent Tax Court of New Jersey decision provides the first published opinion interpreting a crucial provision of the statute used to calculate such period of time. Under N.J.S.A. 40A:21-16, written application for a tax exemption or abatement must be made to the municipal tax assessor within 30 days (including Saturdays and Sundays) following the completion of an improvement, conversion alteration, or construction on the property for which tax abatement or exemption is sought. The statute defines “completion” of a project as the date on which same is “substantially ready for the intended use”.
The New Jersey State Comptroller released a report Wednesday entitled “A Programmatic Examination of Municipal Tax Abatements.” The Comptroller’s report is critical of both five year abatements and long term abatements granted by municipalities and was being widely reported in the press yesterday. Referring to five year abatements (NJSA 40A-21-1 et seq.) and long term abatements (NJSA 40A-20-1 et seq.), the Comptroller’s report finds “numerous weaknesses in the regulation, implementation and oversight of these programs” including: PILOTs paid to municipalities are at the expense of counties, school districts and other taxpayers; there is lack of transparency and centralization of information about abatement agreements; criteria and processes for evaluating potential abatement agreements are weak; directly affected stakeholders are not adequately involved in the decision making process; municipal follow up on abatement terms and benefits is lacking; redevelopment areas in which abatements are granted are not periodically reviewed to account for neighborhood changes or improvement; municipalities often fail to use abatements to bring in the type of redevelopment that would address community needs or bring appropriate improvement; and the State does not closely monitor the use of abatements or offer significant guidance to municipalities on how to interpret relevant statutes or implement abatement programs.