Come Election Day, state lawmakers are counting on you to remember how good it feels to tear open an envelope from the state with a check inside, with your name on it.
Legislators are touting the $2.2 billion property tax rebate this year as a record amount of property tax relief. Last year’s rebate program cost $900 million.
“This is probably in the history of the state the most generous property tax relief program,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge. “This is a landmark amount of money being returned to property taxpayers.”
Most homeowners can expect to receive checks this fall for up to 20 percent of the first $10,000 of their property tax bill. In North Jersey, homeowners earning less than $100,000 a year can expect checks averaging $1,080. Those earning up to $250,000 would receive checks for up to 15 percent.
Seniors will receive checks for 20 percent or $1,200, whichever is greater. Renters will also receive higher credits than before.
But New Jersey taxpayers shouldn’t kid themselves. The state will pay for this year’s rebates with last year’s 1-cent sales tax hike, which means taxpayers are essentially getting back money they have already paid the state in sales taxes. To repeat the rebate next year, lawmakers would need to find a new source of funding.
“The property tax relief provided in this budget is a one-shot deal,” said Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington. “It cannot be repeated in the following fiscal year without either higher taxes, serious budget cuts, or some scheme like selling the turnpike.”
Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Cresskill, sees the rebates as a political gimmick.
“What it does is frankly give the party in control an opportunity to send people a check so that they think they’re getting something… before the election,” Cardinale said.