What happens if I skip Senior Freeze for one year?

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Q. I have been receiving the New Jersey Senior Freeze for the last few years. Next year, If I go over the income limit and don’t qualify, will I lose my base year, which was from 2013. Will I have to start from scratch? I don’t want to lose my base year level.
— Senior

A. It’s important to note that while the state is freezing funding for the Senior Freeze and the Homestead Rebate in the wake of the financial impact of the coronavirus.

The move was because of “significant” slowdown in tax collections.

Before we get to the specifics of your questions, let’s review the Senior Freeze rules in regular times.

The Senior Freeze program is a property tax relief program that reimburses eligible senior citizens and disabled persons for property tax or mobile home park site fee increases on their principal residence.

To qualify, you must meet all the eligibility requirements for each year from the base year to the application year, said Patricia Daquila, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley, a subsidiary of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, in New Providence.

The current application year is 2019.

The eligibility requirements include that you were 65 years or older or that you were receiving Social Security disability benefits, Daquila said.

You also need to have lived in New Jersey continuously since Dec. 31, 2008 as either a homeowner or a renter and you must have owned or lived in your home since Dec. 31, 2015 and you still live there as of Dec. 31, 2019, she said.

In addition, you need to meet the income standards for 2019 and 2018 which are $91,505 or less for 2019 and $89,013 or less for 2018. Daquila said. This includes all income received during the year including income items that do not need to be reported on the New Jersey tax return such as Social Security, disability and tax-exempt income.

The “base year” is defined as the first year that all of the eligibility requirements were met. You can learn more here.

Now to your specific question.

“If your income exceeds the income limits in 2019, then you would not qualify for the Senior Freeze in 2019. You would not receive any Senior Freeze reimbursement for 2019,” she said. “In addition, since the Senior Freeze eligibility looks at the current year and the prior year income, you would not meet the eligibility limits for the 2020 senior freeze application as well.”

She said the first year that you would possibly qualify would be 2021 and yes, you would lose your original base year of 2013.

If you still want to maintain your base year of 2013, then it would be advisable to keep your income below the income standards of $91,505 for the 2019 Senior Freeze application, she said.

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This story was originally published on March 25, 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.