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October 2, 2012

RE: Verizon Business Personal Property Tax Appeal Denied Hopewell and League to Seek Legislative Remedy and Supreme Court Intervention

Dear Mayor:

As indicated in our June 28 letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2012-0628-VERIZON-V-HOPEWELL.html), New Jersey Tax Court Judge Gail Menyuk had issued a preliminary opinion in the crucial case of Verizon vs. Hopewell that, for the most part, upheld Verizon’s basic arguments, pending further Tax Court proceedings. That decision would permit Verizon to deny Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT) payments to over 100 municipalities in 2013.

The case, in which the League supported Hopewell as amicus curiae, involved Verizon’s claimed exemption from the BPPT in any municipality where the corporation unilaterally determines that it no longer supplies dial tone and access to at least 51% of the local telephone exchanges. Verizon’s claim had been rejected by the Mercer County Board of Taxation in 2009. In the Tax Court case, which followed the Board of Taxation’s determination, Verizon also challenged the constitutionality of the BPPT.

Judge Menyuk’s decision permitted Verizon to withhold BPPT payments in the affected municipalities, pending further Tax Court proceedings. Rather than going through the time and expense of a Tax Court trial, Hopewell, with the League’s support, decided to appeal Judge Menyuk’s order. The appeal by Hopewell and the League represented an attempt to resolve the underlying legal issue, without going through the time and expense required in a trial.

We have now learned that the Appellate Division has decided to deny Hopewell’s Motion to Appeal pending completion of the Tax Court trial.

Hopewell believes, and we agree, that it is now in the best interests of municipalities and property taxpayers to pursue a two-pronged strategy. First, we will work toward a Legislative remedy. On that front, we are ready to contact Legislators who are aware of the history of the issue and of municipal concerns with Verizon’s self-serving interpretation of the BPPT provisions.

Second, we will exhaust our legal remedies and ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Appellate Division decision and determine the legal issue.

We will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

Art Ondish
Mayor, Mount Arlington
League President
Brian Wahler
Mayor Piscataway
Member, NJLM Exec. Board
Chair, NJLM Telecommunications Study Committee
William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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