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August 2, 2012

RE: Verizon Personal Property Tax Issue Appeal

Dear Mayor:

As indicated in our June 28 letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2012-0628-VERIZON-V-HOPEWELL.html), a recent Tax Court decision can prove costly to municipalities all around New Jersey. The case of Verizon New Jersey, Inc. vs. Hopewell Borough involved Verizon’s interpretation of 1997 amendments to the law dealing with the Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT). Pursuant to that interpretation, Verizon claimed an 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. The League, represented by our Special Counsel, Joel Shain, Esq., supported Hopewell as amicus curiae.

When the Tax Court Judge decided the initial issues in favor of Verizon, Hopewell indicated a willingness to appeal that decision, but concerns about bearing the costs of that action, alone. We, then, reached out to the Mayors of the 68 municipalities who have already been denied Verizon BPPT payments. To their credit, they all asked their governing bodies to commit support for Hopewell, on the Appeal.  And to their credit, each of those governing bodies has agreed to do so.

Accordingly, On Tuesday, July 31, Hopewell Borough asked the Appellate Division to entertain an appeal from the Tax Court decision. We have posted the Borough’s Notice of Motion for Leave to Appeal (http://www.njslom.org/documents/Notice-MotionForLeaveToAppeal.pdf) and the Brief in support of that Motion (http://www.njslom.org/documents/DefendantBrief-Borough-in-SupportofMotionLeaveAppeal.pdf) on our website.

Though the Verizon interpretation of the law has denied BPPT revenues to 68 municipalities, to date; other municipalities are sure to suffer losses, in the future. Accordingly, we all should appreciate the leadership of Hopewell Borough and the rest of the 68 municipalities, on this.

We will keep you posted on future developments on the Appeal. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

Hon. Brian Wahler,
Mayor Piscataway;
Member, NJLM Executive Board; and
Chair NJLM Telecommunications Issues Task Force
William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director
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