Fighting to Fully Fund Senior Freeze, Homestead Rebate

By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey

The health crisis has placed additional financial burdens on many Monmouth County seniors, who now fear they may lose their ability to get property tax relief through the Property Tax Reimbursement Program, also known as the “Senior Freeze”.

If you owned a home for many years, you have helped build your community with your property taxes. No senior should be forced to move from the home they spent their life working to pay for and where they raised their families because their incomes cannot keep up with rising property taxes. We have heard your concerns and that’s why we’re fighting to make sure Senior Freeze is fully funded in the state budget. We also are working hard to get the Homestead Rebate program funded.

The Senior Freeze helps seniors stay in their homes by enabling eligible homeowners to have their future property taxes frozen at current levels for as long as they meet the income requirements. For many of our seniors, it has been the difference between keeping their homes and being uprooted and forced to move.

If you’re not familiar with the Senior Freeze program, here’s how it works: The state issues annual reimbursements to eligible seniors, refunding the difference between their frozen property tax year and the increased amount they pay each year afterward. Unfortunately, because of the state of the state’s finances, the program’s funding this year may be reduced or eliminated for 2020.

We urge you to apply to freeze your property taxes at their current level rather than wait and allow your taxes to increase in 2021. You might not receive reimbursement for this year’s Senior Freeze, but you will pay less in taxes next year, and in all subsequent years as long as you meet the income requirements. Your income—combined if you are married or in a civil union—must have been $89,013 or less in 2018 and $91,505 or less last year.

To be eligible for the Senior Freeze on your 2020 taxes, you, your spouse or civil union partner must have been 65 or older on December 31, 2018, or receiving federal Social Security disability benefit payments on or before that date; have to have lived in New Jersey continuously since December 31, 2008, as either a homeowner or a renter; and you must have lived in your home at least since December 31, 2015, and still owned and lived in it on December 31, 2019. You also must have paid your 2018 property taxes by June 1, 2019, and your 2019 property taxes by June 1 of this year.

If you own a mobile home you also may be eligible for the Senior Freeze provided you leased your site in a mobile home park and purchased your mobile home before December 31, 2015 and still lived there on December 31, 2019. You also must have paid your site fees by December 31 of each year from 2015 on to be eligible.

If you have questions or would like to receive an application for the Senior Freeze, you can call our office at (732) 695-3371 or email us at help@njld11.com. Please make sure to include your address so we can mail you more information about the program and an application. You can also call or email us to request a virtual or phone appointment with a member of our staff, who would be glad to walk you through the steps of completing the application. The deadline to apply is November 2, 2020.

We’re here to help. Stay safe.