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Madden Sponsors Legislation to Make Housing More Affordable for Seniors/Disabled Citizens

NJ politics 1

TRENTON, NJ--(February 8, 2019)Senator Madden is the sponsor of legislation that would make housing more affordable for many seniors and disabled citizens who are eligible for the homestead property tax reimbursement program, more commonly known as the PTR program.

Currently to be eligible, a senior or disabled citizen would have to have lived in New Jersey continuously for ten years and in the same house for three years; be 65 or older or receiving Social Security Disability; and as of the most recent program year, make under $87,007. The first year that an applicant is eligible for the program is called a “base year.” Each year, as long as the applicant is still eligible, he or she will receive the difference between the prior year’s property taxes and the property taxes paid during the base year. If the applicant is a married couple, only one person must meet the age/disability and residency criteria.

For example, if a taxpayer’s property taxes were $6,000 in their base year of 2009 and $7,000 in 2018, his or her reimbursement this year would be $1,000.

If a taxpayer who applies for and is eligible for the program moves, he or she is only eligible to reapply after two full calendar years in his or her new home. At this point, he or she would apply and establish a new base year, which would be the property taxes paid in the first full calendar year in the home.

The bill, S1111, would revise the criteria used to establish a base year. Under this legislation, a taxpayer would retain his or her base year (which would be the property taxes paid on the new home in the year that the taxpayer first became eligible for the program), and he or she would be eligible to apply for the reimbursement immediately.

Following the example above, if the same eligible taxpayer moves to a new home, he or she would establish a new base year amount, which would be the property tax bill on the new home from 2009.

The current system encourages seniors to stay in homes that might be too big rather than downsize to a home that might have lower property taxes. Passing this bill would remove this disincentive to move by allowing seniors to maintain their base year, thereby making downsizing more practical to many seniors.