State Changes Eligibility For Seniors Freeze
● By Anonymous
New changes to the Property Tax Reimbursement Program for seniors began this year. The qualifying income level has been increased, reporting of pension and retirement benefits are different and the application form is longer. The state has also implemented an interactive questionnaire on its website to help residents determine if they meet eligibility requirements.
The Property Tax Reimbursement Program, also known as the Senior Freeze, helps senior citizens on a fixed income with the rising cost of property taxes. Through the program, the state reimburses eligible seniors and disabled persons the difference between the amount of property taxes they paid during the first year they met the criteria, called the "base year" and the property taxes paid in subsequent years.
To qualify for a 2012 reimbursement, residents must meet all of the following requirements:
- age 65 or older or receiving Federal Social Security disability benefits
- total household income of $82,880 or less in 2012, and $80,000 or less in 2011
- have lived in New Jersey continuously for at least the last 10 years
- have owned and lived in your home for at least the last 3 years
- paid the full amount of property taxes for application year, base year and all subsequent years.
The qualifying income levels have increased over the past few years. In 2006, the threshold was $43,693 for singles and $53,576 for married couples. In 2007, the state changed the requirements to be one level for married or singles, at $60,000. For 2008 and 2009, the level was increased to $70,000. The level was raised to $80,000 in 2010, but due to budget constraints was retroactively reset to $70,000 through 2011.
According to the updated 2012 income standards, all income — taxable and nontaxable — are considered in determining eligibility. The reporting of pension and retirement benefit income has also changed for 2012, due to a recent court decision.
The 2012 application is also twice as long as it was in previous years — four pages instead of two. Residents who applied for and received the Senior Freeze reimbursement last year are automatically sent an application for 2012. Those applying for the first time in 2012 can download the application from the NJ Division of Taxation Website here. The filing deadline is June 3, 2013.