STATE – New Jersey’s Division of Taxation began mailing out 2009 property tax reimbursement checks to seniors this week.
“Checks for the Senior Freeze program will average a little more than $1,100 this year,” state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said.
However, the checks will be at the same level they were last year and will not include refunds for this year’s increase in property taxes. Gov. Chris Christie reduced funding for the program in his recently-passed budget.
Some Democrats were critical of the budget’s effect on senior citizens.
“Senior and disabled residents who were promised property tax relief are now going to struggle to find ways to keep their homes as the rich enjoy their Christie tax cut,” said Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex), who sponsored a bill vetoed by Christie that would have restored property tax relief for seniors by using money from a tax surcharge on residents making $1 million or more per year. “That’s not a value New Jersey has ever stood for and it’s unfortunate we’re now heading down this road.”
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) said, “The governor has warned, ‘If you tax them, they will leave.’ Indeed he was right, but it will be the senior citizens who will be leaving our state.”
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union) was also critical of Christie’s priorities after the budget was signed into law. “Just about everything vital to average New Jerseyans is getting taxed in this budget, whether it be property taxes, health care, jobs or income,” he said. “Well, your income taxes go up only if you’re a working poor family. Millionaires will be enjoying their tax cut.”
Greenstein and Burzichelli both voted against Christie’s budget, but Cryan made it possible by siding with the Republican minority in the Legislature to vote for it.
The Senior Freeze program will not send out checks to new applicants this year, but officials advise anyone who is eligible to submit an application to lock in their current tax bill in case the program is fully funded in future budgets.
In addition to the cuts made to the Senior Freeze program, Christie’s budget eliminated New Jersey’s property tax rebate checks.
New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, averaging nearly $7,300 per household.
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