Can I get tax breaks for seniors on this home?

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Q. I moved to North Carolina in March 2019. I still own my home in New Jersey, which my adult children and grandchildren now occupy. I pay the yearly property taxes. Am I eligible for a rebate or any relief funds like the Homestead Rebate or Senior Freeze or anything else? I am 60 and retired and I receive a state pension.
— Senior

A. Congrats on your move.

The programs you’re asking about have eligibility requirements, and that’s going to be a problem for you.

The Homestead Rebate is a property relief program for New Jersey residents.

In order to qualify, you must be a New Jersey resident, you must have owned and occupied your home on Oct. 1 of the year that you are applying for and property taxes must have been paid on that home, said Patricia Daquila, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley, a subsidiary of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, in New Providence.

You also have to meet income requirements, she said. You must earn less than $150,000 if you are 65 years or older or blind and disabled, or $75,000 if you are under 65 and not blind or disabled, she said.

“New Jersey does operate on a two-year lag for Homestead Rebates,” she said. “Therefore, for 2018, if you meet all the above requirements, then you would qualify. You should apply in 2020 for your 2018 rebate.”

But because you moved out of New Jersey in 2019, you would no longer qualify for the 2019 Homestead rebate or any years after that.

Then there’s the Senior Freeze program. This reimburses eligible senior citizens and disabled persons for property tax increases on their principal residence.

Like the Homestead Rebate, you would have to meet all the eligibility requirements for each year from the base year — the first year you get the benefit — through the application year, Daquila said.

The eligibility requirements for the Senior Freeze are that you have to be 65 or older or be receiving federal Social Security disability payments. Then, you need to have lived in New Jersey continuously as either a homeowner or renter. You must have owned and lived in your home since Dec. 31, 2015 or earlier and you must still own the home at the end of the year that you are applying for, Daquila said.

Then you also have to meet the income limits.

“The income limits for 2019 are $91,505 for single or married couples and $89,013 for 2018, which includes income that you do not have to report on the New Jersey return such as Social Security and disability benefits,” she said. “You would not be eligible if you rent to someone else.”

So in your case, your home is not your principal residence any longer so you would not qualify for 2019 or any year after that, she said.

Email your questions to moc.p1590933917leHye1590933917noMJN1590933917@ksA1590933917.

This story was originally published on March 5, 2020.

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.