Don’t miss extended ‘Senior Freeze’ deadline

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. I’m 67. When and how do I apply for Senior Freeze on property taxes? I thought it was 65, but when I asked at that time, I was told 67.
— Senior

A. With New Jersey’s high property taxes, you certainly don’t want to miss out on the possibility of any benefits.

The Senior Freeze program reimburses New Jersey residents for any increase in their property tax between the “base” year and the current year – as long as you meet the qualifications.

“The property for which you wish to freeze your taxes must be the home you live in and not a vacation or second home,” said Howard Hook, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with EKS Associates in Princeton.

Hook said you can’t rent the property and it cannot contain more than four units. If it does contain multi-units, no more than one of those units can be commercial, he said.

If the property qualifies, then there are an additional five tests to determine eligibility, Hook said.

The first is age. You or your spouse must be age 65 or older or disabled and receiving federal disability benefits.

Then there’s residency. You must have lived in New Jersey for the past 10 years.

Next, you must have lived in your current home for at least the past three years.

Then, you must have paid your property taxes in full, and finally, there are income limits. You must have less than $87,007 of income in 2015 and $70,000 in 2016, Hook said.

He said the income limits are tricky because they include all income, including income that would not otherwise be subject to New Jersey income tax such as Social Security income.

“For the 2016 program year, if your 2015 income was less than $87,007 but 2016 income was greater than $70,000 and less than $87,007, the state will grant you eligibility future reimbursements even though you will not qualify for reimbursement for the 2016 program,” hook said.

You can learn more about the program on the state’s website.

One final note about deadlines. Applications were originally due June 1, 2017 for the 2016 claim year, but the deadline was extended to Oct. 18, 2017.

Email your questions to moc.p1503317151leHye1503317151noMJN1503317151@ksA1503317151.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.