July 20, 2011
RE: Senior Property Tax Freeze Information
The Senior Freeze reimbursements will be forwarded to the taxpayer. They will NOT appear as a credit on property tax bills.
Please share this information with your tax collector, treasurer and CFO.
Since the law governing the Property Tax Reimbursement (Senior Freeze) program was changed in 2008, and since further changes were effected by language provisions in the State’s FY ’11 (last fiscal year) and FY ‘12 (this fiscal year) budgets, there may be some confusion among your constituents regarding qualifications for the program, and when and if it would be appropriate to file an application.
P.L. 2008, c. 119 removed the distinction between single and married applicants and raised the ceiling to $60,000 in 2007 and $70,000 in 2008. The income ceiling was to increase to $80,000 in 2009 and would be adjusted for inflation annually thereafter. However, through budget language last year, the State saved $14 million by limiting qualification for the Senior Freeze to those with total incomes of $70,000 or less. Absent the budget provision, the threshold would have increased to $80,000 or less in FY ‘11.
A further change based reimbursements on property taxes paid in 2008, instead of 2009. And a final change closed the program to new qualifiers.
Language in this year’s budget:
1. Maintains the FY 2011 income restrictions
2. Caps payments at FY 2010 benefit amounts
3. Limits reimbursements to the difference between the amount of property taxes paid in tax year 2008 (as opposed to tax year 2010 under statutory provisions) and the amount paid in the base year.
Citizens may be eligible for a reimbursement of the difference between the amount of property taxes paid in the base year (the first year one would have became eligible) and the amount paid for a subsequent year, if one has met all the following requirements for the base year and for each succeeding year, up to and including the year for which reimbursement is claimed.
- Applicant is age 65 or older or receiving Federal Social Security disability benefits; and
- Applicant has lived in New Jersey continuously for at least the last 10 years, as either a homeowner or a renter; and
- Applicant has owned and lived in a home (or has leased a site in a mobile home park on which the applicant has placed a manufactured or mobile home that the applicant owns) for at least the last 3 years; and
- Applicant has paid the full amount of property taxes (or site fees if one is a mobile home owner) that were due for the base year and for each succeeding year, up to and including the year for which reimbursement is claimed; and
- Applicant meets the income limits for the base year and for each succeeding year, up to and including the year for which reimbursement is claimed.
Under the terms of the State Budget for FY 2012, residents applying for the 2010 reimbursement must have total income for both 2009 and 2010 that is $70,000 or less (the original limit was $80,000). These limits apply regardless of marital/civil union status. However, applicants who are married or in a civil union must report combined income of both spouses/CU partners.
If the residence is in a multiple-unit building that the applicant owns, and the building has more than four units, then the taxpayer is not eligible for a property tax reimbursement. Taxpayers are also not eligible if the building has four units or less, but more than one commercial unit.
Please Note: While residents whose income was over $70,000 but not over the original income limit of $80,000 will not receive reimbursements for 2010, even if they met all the other program requirements, they should still apply to establish their eligibility for benefits in future years. Even though these applicants will not get a check for 2010, they have established their “base year” for any future reimbursements for which they may be eligible, and they will receive a notice advising them of this.
Filing deadline for 2010 applications is Monday, October 31, 2011.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.