Legislation sponsored by Senator Declan O’Scanlon that would allow senior citizens to continue to enjoy their “senior freeze” benefit if they downsize to a smaller home was advanced by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.
“The Senior Freeze provides needed property tax relief for older homeowners, including many who are struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “While the majority of senior citizens live in one- or two-person households, only a small percentage of them reap the savings provided by selling their family home and downsizing.
“This measure will ensure if an eligible homeowner does move to a smaller, more affordable home, it will not jeopardize their reimbursement,” O’Scanlon explained.
Enacted in 1997, the homestead property tax reimbursement program, also known as the Senior Freeze, provides property tax relief to eligible seniors and homeowners with disabilities by reimbursing eligible claimants for property tax increases that occur after the claimant becomes eligible for the program.
Eligible seniors must be 65 years old, have lived in-state for at least 10 years, and owned and occupied their primary residence for at least three years.
Currently, when a claimant moves to a new homestead, they become ineligible for the reimbursement for up to three years. O’Scanlon’s bill would eliminate the penalty for moving to a new homestead for most claimants.
“The intention of the Senior Freeze is to provide assistance with New Jersey’s sky-high property taxes to vulnerable seniors who deserve a break,” O’Scanlon said. “They shouldn’t be penalized for moving into a more affordable residence. The current system actually incentivizes people to pack up and move out of state.”
Companion legislation in the Assembly has been referred to the State and Local Government Committee.