January 24, 1980
COLD INDIAN SPRINGS CORP., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION; MIDDLEBROOK AT MONMOUTH, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION; WOODMERE AT EATONTOWN, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION; WOODSHIRE APARTMENTS, A NEW JERSEY PARTNERSHIP; RALEIGH CORPORATION, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION; CONTINENTAL ENTERPRISES, A NEW JERSEY PARTNERSHIP; CONTINENTAL LAND DEVELOPERS, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND MARTIN BAILEY, TAX COLLECTOR OF THE TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, AND FRANK LINZMAYER AND EILEEN L. YOUMANS, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF TENANTS IN BUILDINGS INVOLVED IN THIS ACTION, INTERVENING DEFENDANTS-COUNTERCLAIMANTS-RESPONDENTS, AND DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES, INTERVENOR-RESPONDENT, HALSTON BUILDERS ASSOCIATES, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS CYPRUS GARDENS, DONALD LEGOW, GERALD LEGOW, AND SARA ANN SANDERS, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS WINGATE APARTMENTS, LALOR GARDENS, A PARTNERSHIP, KUSER VILLAGE, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS KUSER VILLAGE APARTMENTS, THE ROCAR COMPANY, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, DOING BUSINESS AS MORVAN VILLAGE, GEORGE H. SANDS AND CARL GEIGER, DOING BUSINESS AS PRINCETON COURT AND KLOCKNER WOODS, WINDING BROOK ASSOCIATES, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS WINDING BROOK APARTMENTS, EAGLE ROCK ASSOCIATES, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS EAGLE ROCK APARTMENTS, HAMILTONIAN ASSOCIATES, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS HAMILTON APARTMENTS, 3201 ASSOCIATES, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS YORKSHIRE APARTMENTS, AND CHARLES ROTUNDA, JOSEPH ROTUNDA, LOUIS ROTUNDA, RONALD ROTUNDA, JOYCE CAMPANELLA AND MARY APPLEGATE, A PARTNERSHIP, DOING BUSINESS AS VICTORIA APARTMENTS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. PAUL R. KRAMER, AS TEX COLLECTOR FOR HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES, INTERVENOR-RESPONDENT, JOHN F. CULP, III, T/A J.D.R. REALTY COMPANY, PLAINTIFF, V. TOWNSHIP OF MATAWAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, CHARLES LUPPINO AND ROSARIO LUPPINO, T/A HAMPSHIRE HOUSE, AND BRUCE SLATER, T/A BIARRITZ APARTMENTS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. BOROUGH OF FORT LEE, DOROTHY PAGANO, TAX COLLECTOR, BOROUGH OF FORT LEE AN FORT LEE RENT LEVELING BOARD, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, INGANAMORT BROS. AND LA SALA BROS., T/A MEDITERRANEAN TOWERS WEST, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. DOROTHY PAGANO, AS TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE BOROUGH OF FORT LEE, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 161 N.J. Super. (1978).
Before Mr. Justice Sullivan, Mr. Justice Pashman, Mr. Justice Clifford, Mr. Justice Schreiber, and Mr. Justice Pollock.
The opinion of the court was delivered by SULLIVAN, J.
The four appeals herein (three filed as of right and one on leave granted) involve the interpretation of the Tenants' Property Tax Rebate Act (the act), N.J.S.A. 54:4-6.2 et seq. Also presented are attacks on the constitutionality of one of the act's provisions. The appeals had been consolidated by the Appellate Division which filed an opinion interpreting the act, and upholding its provisions. 161 N.J. Super. 586 (1978).
The act, passed in 1976, is social legislation and constitutes a form of economic regulation. It is based on the legislative recognition that rent levels for qualified real rental property*fn1
anticipate the tax burden on the rental property. Accordingly, when there is a reduction in that burden, the act requires that the property owner share the reduction with his tenants. As originally enacted, L. 1976, c. 63, the act applied to the amount to property tax reduction attributable solely to the State aid received during a tax period from the State Aid for Schools Fund established in N.J.S.A. 54A:9-25. However, 17 1977 (L. 1977, c. 81), the definition of property tax reduction subject to the rabate provisions of the act was amended. It now reads:
"Property tax reduction" means 0.65 times the difference between the amount of property tax paid or payable in any year on any qualified real rental property, exclusive of improvements not included in the assessment on the real property for the base year, and the amount of property tax paid in the base year, but such calculations for the property tax reduction shall exclude reductions resulting from judgments entered by county boards of taxation, the Division of Tax Appeals in the Department of the Treasury, or by courts of competent jurisdiction. "Property tax reduction" shall also include 0.65 times any rebate or refund of school property taxes which may be provided pursuant to P.L. 1976, c. 113. "Property tax reduction" shall not include any amount in excess of that which is identified herein. Any such amount shall be retained by the property owner.
The base year established by the above amendment is 1976.*fn2 N.J.S.A. 54:4-6.3 (c). Reductions resulting from judgments entered by county boards of taxation, the Director of Tax Appeals*fn3 or by courts of competent jurisdiction are excluded from calculations for the property tax reduction. N.J.S.A. 54:4-6.3(b).
Section 6.5 of the act provides that commencing with the tax year 1977 and each year thereafter the municipal tax collector, when he prepares the property tax bills, shall compute the
amount of property tax reduction for each property owner of qualified real rental property and shall notify him of the amount of such reduction and of his obligations under the act. Section 6.6 established a formula for computation of the tax rebate for each tenant. Section 6.7 provides for payment or credit of the tax rebate to each tenant in residence at the time of each rent payment. Under section 6.11 a property owner who fails to provide a tenant with a tax rebate due under the act becomes liable for twice the amount of the rebate or $100, whichever is greater.*fn4
The Director of the Division of Local Government Services is empowered to adopt rules and regulations for the efficient administration and implementation of the purposes and provisions of the act. N.J.S.A. 54:4-6.10. Pursuant thereto regulations have ...
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