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Mazzeo, Pinkin & Mukherji Bill to Help Property Taxpayers Whose Homes Were Damaged in Natural Disasters Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) — Legislation Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Nancy Pinkin and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help property taxpayers whose homes were damaged in natural disasters was approved 70-3 Monday by the Assembly.

“After Sandy, many of our state’s residents found that the homes they had lived in and the businesses they had owned for years suddenly were uninhabitable,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “In anticipation of the next disaster of that magnitude, it’s important that we implement a buffer for those struggling to recover.”

The bill (A-3052) establishes a special grace period to provide taxpayers additional time to make payment on property taxes, without accruing interest on the unpaid balance, when their property is damaged or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster.

The bill provides that taxpayers will be allowed additional time to make payment without interest in instances in which the natural disaster causing damage or destruction to their property results in the declaration of a state of emergency by the governor less than 30 days before the date that a property tax installment payment is due.

The bill provides that the additional time for payment will apply so long as payment of the unpaid installment is made on or before the first day of the next calendar month following the date the installment became payable.

The bill authorizes the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs to extend, by temporary regulation, the dates for payment of taxes by a municipality to the county, a local or regional school district, and any other taxing district as provided by law when the time period for a property tax payment is extended pursuant to the provisions of the bill.

In turn, the bill prohibits municipalities from conducting accelerated tax sales in connection with certain properties when the due date for the fourth quarter property tax installment payment is extended pursuant to the provisions of the bill.

Under current law, municipal property taxes are due and payable in quarterly installments on Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1 and Nov. 1. Current law authorizes municipalities to allow a ten-day grace period during which no interest on the property taxes payable on any of those dates could be charged, and permits municipalities to fix the rate of interest charged to taxpayers for unpaid property taxes at maximum rates of 8 percent per year on the first $1,500 of the delinquency and 18 percent per year on any amount in excess of $1,500.

“Some homeowners and business owners across New Jersey who suffered during Sandy were preoccupied with the immediate issues they faced responding to the devastation from the storm,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This measure will help give our residents relief to get back on their feet and gain some peace of mind during times of crisis.”

“Between checking in on friends and neighbors, navigating insurance and just trying to plan past the devastation, New Jersey residents simply were overwhelmed after Hurricane Sandy,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This measure is one way to help the people of this state avoid financial ruin in the event of an emergency.”

The bill will now be referred to the Senate.