08 Apr Do I qualify for the Homestead Rebate or the Senior Freeze?
Q. I recall being ineligible for the Senior Freeze and the Homestead Rebate when I was 65 and still working. Now I’m retired and have a much lower income. I’m trying to figure out if and when I could become qualified for either of these. What do I need to know?
A. Congratulations on your retirement.
You’re not alone in feeling the impact of high New Jersey taxes.
But first, it’s important to note that New Jersey has frozen $920 million in state government spending — including $142 million in Homestead property tax credits — for the rest of the fiscal year as it grapples with a “significant” slowdown in tax collections because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The state treasurer said the state will not fund credits that were to be applied to property owners’ May 1 tax bills, according to NJ.com.
With just about three months left in the fiscal year, the Homestead payments represented one of the largest pots of unspent discretionary cash, Treasury spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino said.
We all hope this is temporary.
Property tax relief is key for retirees in New Jersey, many of whom try to flee the state.
“Over the last few years, more people are currently moving out of the state than moving in, said Joseph Sarnecki, a certified financial planner with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.
Let’s go over the qualifications for the programs.
The Homestead Rebate provides property tax relief to eligible homeowners, Sarnecki said.
“It is paid by delay, meaning the latest year was 2017, but unfortunately that deadline — December 2019 — has passed,” Sarnecki said.
To be eligible, you must be a New Jersey resident and owned and occupied a home in New Jersey that was your principal residence on Oct. 1, 2017. Property taxes must have been paid in full on the home.
You also had to meet the 2017 income requirements:
- $150,000 or less for homeowners age 65 or over or blind or disabled, or;
- $75,000 or less for homeowners under age 65 and not blind or disabled.
Keep an eye on the state’s website, which will eventually offer information on applying for benefits for later years, or you can call the Homestead Benefit hotline at (888) 238-1233.
The Senior Freeze program is really a reimbursement program rather than an actual freezing of tax amounts, Sarnecki said.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be at least 65 years old or receive Social Security Disability benefits;
- Have lived in New Jersey continuously for at least the last 10 years, as either a homeowner or a renter;
- Have owned and lived in that home for the last three years and are current on property taxes;
- Have leased and lived at a site in a mobile home park for the last three years and have paid the full amount of property taxes/site fees;
- Live below the required income level for eligibility, which in 2017 was $87,268 and in 2018 was $89,013, including Social Security and Medicare;
The total annual Income Limit for 2018: $89,013 and 2019: $91,505 (combined if married or civil union and lived in the same home). This is subject to finalized state budget.
“If you are meeting the eligibility requirements for the first time or reapplying after being denied, you need to complete and file the Form PTR-1, and the appropriate verification form each year,” he said.
Forms must be completed and mailed, and are available here. You can call the Senior Freeze hotline at (800) 882-6597 to get one.
Email your questions to .
This story was originally published on April 7, 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.