Help button added to property tax bills, promoting relief programs
It’s July, which means annual property tax bills will be arriving in mailboxes if they haven’t gotten there already.
Under a new law, next year’s bills will come with a virtual help button – the address of the state Division of Taxation website where homeowners can see if they’re eligible to sign up for direct property tax relief programs.
Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-Monmouth, said the programs should be promoted on the tax bills themselves.
“It just kind of makes sense that when they get their tax bill, and everybody gets their tax bill, it puts all that information on the tax bill so they know where to go to find tax relief,” Houghtaling said. “Everybody complains about the high property taxes we do have, but there are programs that can be very helpful with that.”
Not everyone is eligible for the programs, which for non-seniors have a household income cutoff, $75,000, that’s lower than the state’s median household income, estimated at $76,475. That’s part of why the number of homeowners receiving homestead credits is down 40 percent over the past decade.
The number of seniors whose property tax increases are reimbursed by the state through the Senior Freeze program is down 17 percent since its 2012 peak. The number of new signups is at a new low.
“One of the big things we have is for our seniors with the property tax freeze program, senior freeze program, which is very helpful,” Houghtaling said. “This year we actually got an extra $20,000 including onto that, so that’s a combined $90,000.”
The 2020 state budget eliminates a reduction in the income eligibility threshold that had been put in state budgets for the past decade. That brings the threshold to $89,013 for 2018, up from $70,000.
“I’m sure a lot of our seniors out there are not even aware of that program,” he said. “And there’s programs out there to help the veterans. So these services are available, and we just want to make sure everybody takes advantage of them.”
The number of veterans, seniors and disabled signed up for $250 property tax deductions is down almost 50 percent in 15 years.
It took 15 years to get the bill approved. It was signed Friday by Gov. Phil Murphy.
An earlier version of the bill was passed by the Legislature in 2013 but was vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Christie. That one would have required information about the programs and eligibility to be sent, not just list a simple link to find out more information online that shouldn’t add to the paperwork.
The law applies to property tax bills printed on or after Sept. 17. Since tax bills containing the coming year’s four quarterly payments are mailed once a year in July, the information won’t be including in the mailings until next summer.
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