Not so fast! Historic senior property tax relief in NJ has a catch
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
💲 StayNJ senior property tax relief coming — but not for a while
💲 The governor says NJ needs to wait for the economy to strengthen
💲 In the meantime seniors will be getting bonus checks
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced that the StayNJ program, designed to help keep senior citizens in New Jersey by slashing their property taxes, won’t begin for several years.
During a news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton on Wednesday, Murphy said residents 65 and older will have their property taxes cut in half, if they are earning less than $500,000, and the benefit will be capped at $6,500. But it won’t take effect until 2026.
He said for the time being, “we will provide immediate extra tax relief through our ANCHOR program, increasing tax relief this year by $250 for both senior homeowners and senior renters.”
He said those $250 bonus payments will also be given to seniors for an additional two years before the regular StayNJ program begins.
When the property tax program commences, senior homeowners will have their property taxes cut in half while senior renters will continue to get an extra $250 a year.
Why wait 3 years?
Murphy said StayNJ won’t be up and running until 2026 because “we want to give ourselves a couple of more years to see the economy strengthen and we have every reason to believe it will.”
When asked why wealthy seniors making half a million dollars a year will be eligible for a big property tax cut, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said “we want to make sure every senior has the opportunity to stay. We want to capture as many seniors as we possibly can.”
“Seniors contribute in ways that are really profoundly important to communities, and so having people who have the wherewithal to be able to stay here and be engaged and continue to contribute to the economy in a meaningful way is really an important idea," Coughlin said.
Murphy calls program historic
Murphy said StayNJ, coupled with the ANCHOR program is a historic investment.
“We have provided more property tax relief than any governor or legislature in our state’s history, this agreement says we care about our seniors and making New Jersey affordable for all.”
He said that putting extra money in the pockets of seniors will go a long way, especially “if you’re living on a fixed income and seeing prices rise.”
Benefits for the whole family
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said the seniors will be the ones getting the checks but “the benefit really extends to all of the family, we all know that seniors play an important role in family lives, they provide childcare.”
He said he’s a new grandfather, “so I understand what it means to be able to be around the grandchildren that you love so much, I make excuses to go over to their houses.”
State Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, described StayNJ as a game-changer and said “New Jersey has so much to offer for folks, they want to stay here, we need to make it more affordable.”
Murphy said there will not be any future tax hikes to pay for StayNJ.
“Definitively yes we rule it out because it’s kind of crazy to raise taxes to deliver tax relief.”
In order to address any administrative challenges, a six-person commission will be created and tasked with making recommendations by May 2024 to implement StayNJ.
The relief is expected to be delivered in the form of a direct credit on property tax bills in the first quarter of 2026.