In Tight Budget Times, Costs of Printing, Mailing Checks Can Be Eliminated

(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblymen John Burzichelli, Matt Milam and Nelson Albano sponsored to allow the state to convert cumbersome and expensive property tax rebate checks into a property tax credit was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The measure aims to mitigate privacy concerns that have slowed efforts to provide property tax relief through a direct credit on the tax bill as opposed to a rebate check.

“As budget constraints force us to focus property tax relief efforts on homeowners and renters most in need, then those constraints also should force us to finally rethink the way relief is distributed,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Now is the perfect time to stop wasting millions of dollars in printing and mailing costs and to turn to a system of direct credits.”

“Giving seniors and working families a direct property tax credit will ensure relief is delivered in a streamlined way that saves the state money and should be done as soon as possible,” said Milam (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May).

“The current rebate program is clunky and expensive and needs to be replaced with a simpler, more effective system of credits,” said Albano (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Providing an easier way to deliver property tax relief and protect homeowner privacy is a win-win.”

The sponsors also pushed the bill in the last legislative session, but it didn’t receive an Assembly vote.

Currently, property taxpayers must first pay their entire property tax bills before receiving a rebate check. Attempts to move to a system of direct credits that would lower the amount of property taxes paid have been stymied by fears that a review of property tax documents could reveal homeowner’s personal income and other private information.

The measure (A-1708) would require the deletion of any information on a homeowner’s property tax bill that could be used to determine the taxpayer’s income or age, or whether the homeowner suffers from any disability. State, county and municipal tax officials would need to remove such information from any documents made publicly available. The sponsors noted the state spends upwards of $10 million annually just to print and mail rebate checks to qualifying property taxpayers.

The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee released the measure 5-1.

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