In our July 23, 2015 blog, “Tax Appeals: The Silent Killer,” we suggested that property owners return their Chapter 91 response by certified mail or some other method that generates a receipt. The basis for this suggestion is several tax court decisions, including the case discussed in my December 5, 2011 blog and the recent case of 2 JFK Blvd v. Township of Franklin, docket no. 00578-2015 (Tax Court June 24, 2015).

In 2 JFK Blvd, the municipality moved to dismiss a tax appeal alleging the property owner did not respond to a Chapter 91 request. The property owner alleged that it did respond in a timely manner and produced a certification that set forth the date the response was mailed, the address where the response was mailed and enclosed a signed copy of the response. The tax assessor certified that he did not receive the response.

The Tax Court found both witnesses credible and each scenario plausible. The Tax Court also commented that both witnesses “kept records with respect to the question at issue,” which seems to have bolstered the credibility of the property owner and assessor. Based upon the record, the Tax Court denied the motion to dismiss the appeal since there was not “sufficient evidence of non-compliance” by the property owner.

Sending the response by certified mail, overnight mail or hand delivery, provides a property owner with proof of service of his or her response and can help avoid a costly battle at the outset of an appeal.