What programs can help me lower my property tax bill?

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Q. I am 72 and will be 73 by February 2024. I’m semi-retired with a yearly salary of approximately $10,000. I also receive my Social Security check in the amount of $1,661 per month. I have my guardianship for my four-year-old granddaughter and receive $852 monthly for her needs. My property taxes are $9,076. Can I get my property taxes lowered?
— Struggling a little

A. Taxes in New Jersey are pretty painful.

A Tax Foundation analysis found that New Jersey residents pay a medium — half are above this number and half are below— of $8,797 in property taxes. That’s the highest in America,

The state has two main programs to help lower the property tax burden for seniors. There’s the Senior Freeze, and also the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters — the ANCHOR program — which replaced the Homestead Rebate, said Bernie Kiely, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Kiely Capital Management in Morristown.

The Senior Freeze program reimburses eligible senior citizens and disabled persons for property tax or mobile home park site fee increases on their principal residence, Kiely said.

“When you apply, the state freezes your tax bill,” he said. “Your local government will raise real estate taxes for all residents of your community. If you are eligible for the Senior Freeze, the state will reimburse you for any tax increases over your base rate.”

Your base rate is your property tax amount when you first apply for the freeze, he said.

To be eligible, you must be 65 years of age or older and you must have lived in your home for at least the last three years. For the 2022 Senior Freeze, your income including Social Security must be $99,375 or less. For 2023, the maximum income has been raised to $150,000, he said.

The ANCHOR program provides property tax relief for New Jersey residents who own or rent property in New Jersey as their principal residence and meet certain income limits.

The filing deadline for the current benefit — for the 2020 tax year — is Dec. 29, 2023.

“The current year is based on your 2020 income,” Kiely said.

“If your 2020 income — excluding Social Security — was $150,000 or less and you were 64 or younger, you will receive $1,500. If you were 65 or older you would receive $1,750,” he said. “If your 2020 income — excluding Social Security — was $150,001 to $250,000 and you were 64 or younger you will receive $1,000. If you were 65 or older you would receive $1,250.”

Renters get a benefit also. Those who earn less than $150,000 will receive $450, and if you’re 65 or older, you’ll get an additional $250.

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This story was originally published on Nov. 17, 2023.

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.