DIEGNAN & BARNES URGE RESIDENTS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EXTENSION GRANTED FOR SENIOR FREEZE AND HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX REBATES

Assemblymen Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Peter J. Barnes III (both D-Middlesex) on Wednesday urged all eligible residents to take advantage of the extension granted by the NJ Department of Treasury to apply for the Senior Freeze and Homestead property tax relief programs. Due to the storm last weekend that affected countless homeowners, the deadline for applying for either rebate program has been extended to November 7, 2011.

“In this economy, and with rebates eliminated last year, this relief is sorely needed,” said Diegnan. “I encourage anyone who is eligible to take advantage of this last week to apply for whatever relief they are entitled to. Power outages and storm damaged wreaked havoc for many homeowners last week so this extension should be welcome news for many.”

“I’m pleased that we were able to expand this program and extend the eligibility to more seniors in need,” added Barnes. “With costs continually rising and many people experiencing wage freezes or layoffs, every little bit of relief helps. If anyone eligible was tied up with storm-related issues and unable to apply by last week, they now have a little more time to take advantage of these benefits.”

The average Senior Freeze rebate is estimated at $1,150, while the average Homestead rebate is expected to be roughly $475.

The legislators noted that the Senior Freeze program was fully restored under the Democratic budget this year. In FY 2012, Governor Christie had proposed barring new seniors from applying for the program and reducing funding for the program by $25 million, meaning eligible applicants would only be reimbursed at the level of benefit received in FY 2010, regardless of any property tax increase incurred since 2008.

Diegnan and Barnes pointed out that the Democratic budget “unfroze” the program by raising the income eligibility threshold to $70,000 and allowing new applicants to enter the program. As a result of this restoration, over 180,000 seniors will participate in the senior freeze program this year. As a result, over 50,000 additional seniors will receive Senior Freeze checks than would have under the Christie proposal.

To be eligible for the Homestead Benefit, residents must have:

  • Owned and occupied a home in New Jersey that was their principal residence as of Oct. 1, 2010;
  • Had property taxes which were due and paid on the property during 2010; and
  • Earned $150,000 or less in 2010 if age 65 or older or blind or disabled, and $75,000 or less in 2010 if under age 65 and not blind or disabled.

Homeowners who qualify will receive their Homestead Benefit as a credit on their February 2012 property tax bill.

For assistance or an application, residents can call the Homestead Benefit Hotline (1-888-238-1233) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Eligible homeowners can file online at www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ or by phone (1-877-658-2972) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Property Tax Reimbursement (Senior Freeze) applicants can call the Property Tax Reimbursement Hotline at 1-800-882-6597 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays to speak to a representative for assistance, to get information on the status of their reimbursement checks if they have already filed, or to request an application.

Information about the Homestead Benefit and Senior Freeze programs is available on the Division of Taxation’s Web site at: www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/relief.shtml.