NEW JERSEY 101.5

If you're being crushed under the weight of enormous property tax bills in New Jersey, there could be relief for you.

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Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants every taxpayer to know about all local property tax relief programs offered by municipalities. He said right now they are well-kept secrets.

To raise awareness of the programs, Dancer has just introduced a bill to require the state to include information about them in personal income tax materials that are mailed to residents every year.

"Most taxpayers are familiar with the state's Homestead Benefit Program and the Senior Freeze Program, but very few are aware of property tax relief programs that may be available to residents and businesses at the local level," said Dancer, (R-Ocean/Burlington/Middlesex/Monmouth). "This measure will provide them, with no additional cost to the state, with information about programs they may be eligible for that provides needed property tax relief."

Property tax reduction programs are available for veterans and their surviving spouses; disabled veterans and their surviving spouses, and senior citizens, disabled or surviving spouses. Farmland and woodland assessments also provide landowners with another opportunity for property tax savings.

Current New Jersey law also provides towns with a local option to offer five-year tax exemption and abatement programs.

For example, Plumsted Township offers home improvement property tax exemptions for five years on homes 20 years or older; five-year property tax exemptions for commercial business structure improvements, and a five-year property tax abatement for light industrial construction in qualified zones.

The proposed legislation requires state personal income tax materials that are mailed each year to residents include notice of the property tax relief programs administered by the Division of Taxation.

"While we have capped the rate of property tax growth, we still need to do more to provide taxpayers with relief," explained Dancer. "That's the purpose of this bill; to make residents and business owners aware of some of these lesser known programs."