(TRENTON) – The General Assembly gave final legislative approval, 78-0, on Thursday to legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Timothy Eustace to enable members of the United States Armed Forces who participated in rescue and recovery mission at the World Trade Center between September 1, 2001 and May 30, 2002 to receive a property tax exemption or reduction.
“September 11 was a devastating act of war on American soil that will forever be remembered in the hearts of residents of this great state,” said Quijano (D- Union). “American soldiers descended on Ground Zero to save and protect thousands of lives from peril. We can provide relief through this bill for these local heroes where it counts the most, at home. They deserve every opportunity to make their lives a little bit easier as they continue their service to our nation.”
The bill (A-4537) would revise the definition of “active service in time of war” under current law to include service during the period of rescue and recovery of the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. The revision of the definition of “active service in time of war” would make an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces eligible for the $250 veterans’ property tax deduction.
“Service counts whether it’s here or at home,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “New Jersey military members who answered the call of duty and reported to ground zero for rescue and recovery efforts are our heroes and deserve recognition for their bravery. This legislation is a way to extend our gratitude for service during a very tragic time in our nation’s history.”
Specifically, the bill would require that a member of the United States Armed Forces must have served on the pile of rubble that resulted from the attacks on the World Trade Center in direct support of that rescue and recovery effort for a period, continuously or in the aggregate, of at least 14 days in such active service commencing on September 11, 2001 and ending on May 30 2002. It would also require that any person receiving an actual service-incurred injury or disability while engaged in such service will be classed as a veteran whether or not that person completed the required 14 days’ service.
The revision would also make an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces eligible for a 100% property tax exemption under current law if the veteran sustained a service-connected 100 percent disability while serving at the World Trade Center Site. While the state reimburses municipalities, at a rate of 102 percent ($255) for each property tax deduction provided to eligible veterans, the state does not reimburse municipalities for foregone property tax revenue resulting from the disabled veterans’ 100 percent property tax exemption.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Budget panel on June 26; and approved by the Senate on June 19. The bill now heads to the Governor for further consideration.