The Low Income Seniors and Disabled of New Jersey Need Your Help

The State of New Jersey has announced that the Senior Freeze and Homestead Rebate programs will not be funded this year due to State budget constraints.  This is a huge problem for the low income seniors and disabled of New Jersey who depend on this financial assistance to enable them to afford to live in their home.  The Maplewood Seniors Advisory Committee will be writing to our State officials to ask that the funding for these programs be restored.  I am told that the Township of South Orange Village has already written to the State asking that these programs be funded this year.  The Maplewood Township Committee has told me they will be voting on a resolution this evening in support of restoring funding.  Age Friendly Communities in our region have or have committed to writing a similar plea.  This may not be enough.  

If you agree that it is important to find the State funding to enable low income seniors and disabled to remain in their homes at a time of severe emotional and economic stress and fear of pandemic contagion, please take a few minutes to call or write to the Governor's Office and to your local State Senator and Assembly Representatives to urge them to reconsider this removal of funding for the program. If you have contacts in the media or in social action groups that would be willing to provide their support, please reach out to them. Every little bit helps.

If you are a senior or disabled individual who will be impacted by this decision.  Please be sure to file your application this year.  Even if there remains no funding for these programs, for the senior freeze especially, it is vital that you retain your base year.  Failure to do so, could result in your real property tax freeze being based on this year's taxes going forward.


 


cutting the senior freeze is unconscionable

 


oots said:

cutting the senior freeze is unconscionable

 

 If you feel that way, could you please contact the Governor's Office and your State representatives and urge them to reinstate the funding for these programs?  I have been told that the Governor will be giving his budget address on August 25, 2020.  That doesn't give much time for a letter writing/phone calling campaign.  It would also be helpful if you could urge like minded friends to contact State officials as well.  The more of us who protest this proposed action to those in a position to fund the program, the greater likelihood that the programs can be saved.


What does cutting the Senior Freeze program mean?  I'm assuming it means that next year, when the new property tax is calculated, seniors eligible for the Senior Freeze program will no longer see their tax assessment remain steady, but will be subject to the 2% increase, or whatever it turns out to be next year.  Please let me know if my assumption is correct.  


with the freeze, property tax is kept at the base year (ie 2010)...so if tax was 8000 at the base year, but is now 10,000, the senior/disabled must pay an extra 2000 this year.

I think the program started about 15 years ago, a persons tax could be frozen to the amount of that year if they qualified at that point.

the tax froze the year they became disabled/senior.  i found an article that said the freeze was started 20 years ago, so some seniors/disabled could paying the same they paid in 2000.....and will suddenly have to pay 2020 rates this year.  This is only for lower income people.  I think my property tax is about double what it was in 2000....


Low income may be a misnomer.  I am told that the maximum income to qualify for the senior freeze was most recently set at $81,000.  This would make a fair number of middle income seniors/disabled eligible as well.

If the senior freeze is not funded this year, those who previously benefited will have to pay the full amount on their tax bill. (In the past they would pay this amount but then receive a reimbursement from the State for the difference between their real property tax bill in their base year and the current year's taxes.)  The difference could easily be $4,000 - $5,000 a year depending on the year they entered the program.  This could be a huge hit at a time when so many of us are suffering economically as a result of the effects of the pandemic.


yeah, i think they consider 90K low income for this program...i would hope people making well above poverty level would have the resources to pay full tax this year, while many only have social security, are on food stamps, energy assistance, etc...and there is no money to save.  at least single family home owners have the option of a reverse mortgage if they are over 62, but many condos don't qualify because they are not FHA certified....there are going to be truly low income people that won't be able to pay..maybe already have a reverse mortgage just to pay the frozen tax amount....

and for some, there is no place cheaper to go...a paid off small house/condo is often cheaper than renting ..it can take years to get into low income/senior housing


jmitw said:

yeah, i think they consider 90K low income for this program...i would hope people making well above poverty level would have the resources to pay full tax this year, while many only have social security, are on food stamps, energy assistance, etc...and there is no money to save.  at least single family home owners have the option of a reverse mortgage if they are over 62, but many condos don't qualify because they are not FHA certified....there are going to be truly low income people that won't be able to pay..maybe already have a reverse mortgage just to pay the frozen tax amount....

and for some, there is no place cheaper to go...a paid off small house/condo is often cheaper than renting ..it can take years to get into low income/senior housing

A reverse mortgage is only an option if you have enough equity left in your home to qualify.  Even then, experts advise against taking out a reverse mortgage if you can't afford to pay your real property taxes.  Otherwise, it is a great way to lose your house.


I'll bet they could fund this (and probably some other needed programs) with a minor increase in the income tax percentage for the top marginal bracket (or a new higher bracket.)  I'm not sure exactly where those brackets are, but I'm thinking for incomes above some threshhold in the $300-500K per year range perhaps.  I'm sure the actuarial types could figure it out in a way that would provide protection for our vulnerable population for a relatively minor increase on those with high incomes.


Bye, bye, stimulus payments. Given by the federal government and then possibly taken by the state.

What about the large corporations that have tax deals because they moved from NY to NJ or they promised not to leave? They still have those deals? Anyone read that maybe they should cough up a bit?

Its unfair to hit the elderly while large corporations still get tax breaks.


Hell, the Catholic Church raked in 1.4 billion and they don’t even pay taxes...


you can pay property tax if that is why you take out the reverse mortgage...people normally eligible for a significant freeze payment would have lived in the home a long time, and typically would have  equity unless they already took out HELOC or other loans....the exception would be people that bought between about 2005-2008 when prices were high and the the only equity is what they paid into it (no increased value)


The Township Committee voted unanimously to prepare and send a resolution to State officials supporting the continued funding of the senior freeze and homestead rebate programs. The South Orange Board of Trustees has already done this. The Maplewood Seniors Advisory Committee is now urging individuals and community groups to write and send their own message of support. Here is the contact information for those who should be contacted:

Governor Phil Murphy

Mailing:

The Honorable Phil Murphy

Governor, State of New Jersey

Office of the Governor

PO Box 001

Trenton, NJ 08625



Phone:

609-292-6000



Email:

Constituent.relations@nj.gov



Senator Richard J. Codey

Mailing:

The Hon. Richard J. Codey

66 W. Mount Pleasant Avenue

Livingston, NJ 07039



Phone:

973-535-5017



Email:

Sencodey@njleg.org



Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey

Mailing:

The Hon. Mila M. Jasey

511 Valley St.

Maplewood, NJ 07040



Phone:

973-762-1886



Email:

Aswjasey@njleg.org



Assemblyman John McKeon

Mailing:

The Hon. John F. McKeon, Jr.

250 Main St.

Madison, NJ 07940



Phone:

973-377-1606



Email:

Asmmckeon@njleg.org


We are also asking those in support of maintaining the funding of these programs for this year to contact the media of their choice.


joan_crystal said:

The Township Committee voted unanimously to prepare and send a resolution to State officials supporting the continued funding of the senior freeze and homestead rebate programs. The South Orange Board of Trustees has already done this. The Maplewood Seniors Advisory Committee is now urging individuals and community groups to write and send their own message of support. Here is the contact information for those who should be contacted:

Governor Phil Murphy

Mailing:

The Honorable Phil Murphy

Governor, State of New Jersey

Office of the Governor

PO Box 001

Trenton, NJ 08625



Phone:

609-292-6000



Email:

Constituent.relations@nj.gov



Senator Richard J. Codey

Mailing:

The Hon. Richard J. Codey

66 W. Mount Pleasant Avenue

Livingston, NJ 07039



Phone:

973-535-5017



Email:

Sencodey@njleg.org



Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey

Mailing:

The Hon. Mila M. Jasey

511 Valley St.

Maplewood, NJ 07040



Phone:

973-762-1886



Email:

Aswjasey@njleg.org



Assemblyman John McKeon

Mailing:

The Hon. John F. McKeon, Jr.

250 Main St.

Madison, NJ 07940



Phone:

973-377-1606



Email:

Asmmckeon@njleg.org

 thanks for providing this contact info.  I have emailed and hard copied to each representative a letter in support of these programs

oots


oots said:

 thanks for providing this contact info.  I have emailed and hard copied to each representative a letter in support of these programs

oots

 Thank you!


I emailed all three of our legislators.  Is there an email/online way to send a letter to the Governor?  


The Committee member who researched the contact information did not supply one.  I will ask and get  back to you if one is available.


There is an online form.  I sent mine under the topic of "taxation" and there is a subtopic for "senior freeze"

https://nj.gov/governor/contact/



Email: Constituent.relations@nj.gov is the email address I got from a committee member.  Nice to know about the online "contact us" form.  Thanks for writing and caring.


Thank you so much to those who have posted your support.  If anyone is interested in reading the letter the Maplewood Seniors Advisor Committee sent out (and hopefully adopting it to write and send your own), I am told the letter will appear in tomorrow's edition of both Village Green and Tap.


EBennett said:

There is an online form.  I sent mine under the topic of "taxation" and there is a subtopic for "senior freeze"

https://nj.gov/governor/contact/

 Thx!  I sent feedback here also.


If you're not a senior or not income eligible for the Homestead benefit you should complain.

Living normally will make you a senior. Don't assume your income will remain at a level making you ineligible. If you can't be bothered to protect these programs then don't complain when what you may need is not there for you.

We don't want politicians to get the idea that cutting these programs is a conveniently easy money grab. You can sure tax benefits given to corporations won't be cut.


Which programs' funding should  be cut during the State's current revenue shortfall?

TomR


if they can find the money to pay people who refuse to work because they get more on unemployment an extra 600 week...they can fund assistance for the elderly and disabled that don't have the option to go work in shoprite or target.

i don't know if its possible, but the income cut off is pretty high.....if they could fund it for truly low income people only that would help a lot of people...maybe have the income cut off half of what it currently is...so that would be about 45000 income cut off.


I thought about reducing the income eligibility for the senior freeze .  Then I considered that there are seniors and disabled who still work, at least part time, to be able to afford to continue living here or anywhere else they would be able to move to during a pandemic.  Some of them will now be out of work and missing that income. On average,  medical expenses increase as we get to a certain age (medical expenses are definitely higher for the disabled than for most),  the cost of home delivery is higher than going to the store yourself, insurance costs rise with age, pensions and retirement savings can decrease in value when the stock market falls, lower interest rates can impact the bond market, etc.  Even those closer to the income cap stand to suffer if the senior freeze program is not funded.  

I would be OK with not funding the homestead rebate this year.  The amount received per person is much lower though many more people are eligible for and receive the homestead rebate.  Unlike the senior freeze program, the real property tax billed for the property does come into play.  Therefore, maintaining one's base year is not an issue.

Tom R. asks the key question.  Resources are severely limited.  How would they be better allocated? If one line in the budget is increased, another has to be cut to take its place.  Then those who benefit from the cut made elsewhere will suffer and they will have even less time to launch a successful protest.  There is no easy answer.  There may be no answer at all.


We should ask those with higher incomes to contribute just a bit more tax funding via a slightly higher percentage on the existing top bracket or a new top bracket at a higher income threshold.  Many higher income people have not been impacted financially by the pandemic and, as long as the tax is income-based, it should not be excessively burdensome.  The loss of the homestead rebate and senior freeze IS excessively burdensome on some of our most vulnerable citizens.


Tom_R said:

Which programs' funding should  be cut during the State's current revenue shortfall?

TomR

 

sac said:

I'll bet they could fund this (and probably some other needed programs) with a minor increase in the income tax percentage for the top marginal bracket (or a new higher bracket.)  I'm not sure exactly where those brackets are, but I'm thinking for incomes above some threshhold in the $300-500K per year range perhaps.  I'm sure the actuarial types could figure it out in a way that would provide protection for our vulnerable population for a relatively minor increase on those with high incomes.

Instead of cutting 100% of the benefits of a vulnerable group they should prorate it based on the revenue shortfall. If NJ state revenue falls 30% maybe they should just cut the seniors 30% instead of 100%.

Many NJ residents who worked in NY are now working in NJ. Normally, the income tax paid to NY is offset against their NJ income tax as a NJ credit. But they are no longer working in NY. Are they still paying NY income tax even though they're nit supposed to? Days worked in NJ are 100% NJ taxable, 0% NY.

You want to increase NY revenue? Require companies to follow tax laws. Have them withhold based on where they are now working.



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