Homestead Rebate vs. Senior Freeze

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Q. What’s the difference between the Homestead Rebate and the Senior Freeze? I received a property tax credit for my last quarter’s taxes through the Homestead Rebate program. I qualify for the Senior Freeze program and I’m not certain if I should apply.
— Senior

A. Apply away.

If you qualify for both programs, you can get benefits from both.

The Senior Freeze program offers a property tax reimbursement to eligible seniors — 65 and older — or disabled individuals, said Cynthia Fusillo. a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

“To qualify you must be a homeowner or mobile homeowner and satisfy income limitations for a particular year,” she said. “Currently this income limit is set at $70,000 for the year.”

Other requirements include that you must have lived in New Jersey for the past 10 years and in your current home for at least the last three, Fusillo said, adding that applications for the Senior Freeze are paper filed.

Then there’s the Homestead Rebate, which has undergone a lot of changes over the years. Today, eligibility is stricter than ever.

“While it is not limited to seniors/disabled, it no longer includes renters, as it used to, and income limits have shrunk over the years to no more than $75,000 — or as much as $150,000 if 65/disabled,” Fusillo said.

The benefit only applies to principal residences.

“The rebate is in the form of a credit on your property tax bill,” she said, noting applications are filed online or by phone.

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