New Jersey Court Records
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How Does New Jersey Tax Court Work?
New Jersey Tax Court is a specialized court with limited jurisdiction per Section § 54:33–2 of the New Jersey Statutes. This court hears tax-related issues and disputes between taxpayers and a government agency. The typical cases in the Tax Court pertain to:
- Taxation on personal property;
- Appeals of tax decisions made by any of the 21 county Boards of Taxation;
- Appeals on state income tax, sales tax, business taxes, as well as homestead rebates.
Generally, the New Jersey Tax Court ensures that taxpayers have access to prompt and fair hearings by a qualified body of judges. Tax Court achieves the following objectives:
- Provides a fast, convenient, equitable, and effective judicial review of state tax and local property tax assessments;
- Creates a consistent body of tax law to guide taxpayers and tax administrators;
- Publishes the courts’ rulings that are readily available to taxpayers, tax administrators, and tax professionals; and
- Fosters the development of a state and local tax bar.
By law, the Tax Court’s jurisdiction also extends to cases where the Superior Court requires expertise in matters involving taxation. In this case, the Superior Court transfers such cases to the Tax Court under the Supreme Court’s Rules. Examples of these types of Superior Court cases include those about:
- Review of the prerogative writs of municipal officials concerning the administration of tax laws
- Tenant tax-rebate
- Nonpayment of real property taxes
- Rent leveling
- Review of tax assessments for municipal improvements
- In rem tax foreclosure actions,
- Complex real estate valuation disputes in family cases
There are eleven Tax Court judges with courtrooms, and chambers are located in four vicinages, including Hackensack, Newark, Morristown, and Trenton. The judges in these four vicinages also hear cases originating in neighboring vicinages. For example, the Tax Court judges seated in Newark rule over issues arising in Hudson and Essex Counties. Tax Court judges often sit in courthouses in Freehold, Toms River, Camden, and Atlantic City.
A court clerk is assigned to every tax court. He or she performs courtroom duties, including operating sound-recording equipment. Having a court clerk enables the judge to review court proceedings in the preparation of written opinions. Tax Court judges meet regularly to discuss developments in the state’s tax laws and the tax courts’ general operations. The judges also discuss and review written opinions to be published in the New Jersey Tax Court Reports.
New Jersey Tax Court Reports are written opinions in cases of significant legal issues. Although every judge generates his or her own opinion on an assigned topic, judges submit all opinions to other judges for consideration and discussion. These reports often become a body of tax law.
The Management Office of the Tax Court handles administrative services necessary for the functioning of the court. Generally, the office is responsible for:
- Record keeping and case management before cases move to disposition;
- Managing the resources allocated to the Tax Court judges and their supporting staff; and
- Accepting filings, assigning cases, and preparing calendars and judgments
Trials in New Jersey Courts typically follow the Tax Court Handbook. Cases begin when the petitioner files a complaint with the Case Management Office. Upon processing by the Management Office, the Tax Court will create the case and issue an acknowledgment to the plaintiff. Then, the Tax Court will schedule a hearing date for the case.
Litigants may appeal the decisions of the Tax Court in the Appellate Division of Superior Court. Likewise, parties may appeal to the New York Supreme Court case, which is the last resort court. Per New Jersey Open Records Law, interested individuals may access publicly-available Tax Court records from their official custodians. The New Jersey Judiciary maintains an online database to this effect. The search may query the database using the docket number, name of litigants, block, or lot information.
Each tax court is assigned to specific geographical areas. The following is a list of the location and contact information of the case management office and tax courts in New Jersey:
Tax Court Management Office
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
25 Market Street, P. O. Box 972
Trenton, NJ 08625–0972
Phone: (609) 815–2922
Bergen (except for certain municipalities)
125 State Street, Suite 100
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Phone: (609) 815–2922 ext. 54570
Morris and Sussex
77 Headquarters Plaza
First Floor, North Tower
Morristown, NJ 07960–3963
Phone: (609) 815–2922 ext. 54580
Monmouth, Middlesex (except certain municipalities)
RJ Hughes Justice Complex
25 Market Street, 7th Floor, P. O. Box 975
Trenton, NJ 08625