As New Session Begins, Lawmakers Seek To Ease Property Tax Burden For NJ Homeowners
State lawmakers on Thursday introduced a package of bills aimed at reducing property taxes in New Jersey, taking the first step toward delivering on the promises that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have made in recent years. months to make the state more affordable.
The state Senate’s Community and Urban Affairs Committee has unanimously approved six bills that largely target New Jersey’s inflated property taxes and provide financial relief to renters and landlords.
It comes about two weeks after a new state legislature was sworn in after a rocky election in November that saw Democrats retain control of the state Senate and Assembly, but also saw Republicans win seven seats.
“It’s no coincidence that the very first Senate committee hearing of the new legislative session is focused on tackling our state’s high property taxes and making our state more affordable,” the senator said. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) in a statement after Thursday’s vote. .
Singleton, who chairs the committee, sponsored three of the bills, including S330which would increase the amount of funding distributed to municipalities across the state from the energy tax fund beginning in 2023. The bill requires municipalities to use the new funds to reduce their property taxes.
Energy taxes were collected by individual municipalities until the state began collecting these revenues for the convenience of utilities, according to Lori Buckelew, director of government affairs for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
The state was supposed to pass these funds to local governments, but in 2008 this money was diverted to the state’s general fund through a change in budget language, a practice that continued under both Democratic and Republican administrations. , Buckelew said.
“Since 2008, we estimate that approximately $14 billion has been diverted from municipalities to the state budget,” Buckelew said. “Now is the time to return to local budgets the millions in property tax breaks that have been diverted each year to meet state needs.”
The package of bills approved Thursday enjoys bipartisan support and includes Republican-backed legislation, including measures sponsored by Sen. James Holzapfel, R-Ocean, and Sen. Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, which are intended to ease regulatory burdens for businesses and strengthen economic development in the state.
“I appreciate that some of my fellow Democrats now seem willing to work with Republicans who have long sought to address affordability issues for New Jerseyans,” Schepisi said. “It will take a bipartisan effort to convince the Murphy administration that a dramatic shift in tax policy is desperately needed to transform the Garden State.”
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association expressed support for the bills and the Legislature’s goals to increase affordability and economic growth in the state.
“Property taxes are also a major issue for businesses,” said Christopher Emigholz, vice president of government affairs for NJBIA. “Small businesses especially struggle with property taxes. This is often the biggest tax they pay.
A separate bill sponsored by Singleton, S343relieve tenants by increasing income tax deductions from 18% to 30% on the amount of rent used to pay property taxes.
“Tenants also pay property taxes,” Singleton said. “This translates into a $180 million tax cut for those who need it most, working people and low-income families.
The package of bills will now be presented to the full Senate. The Senate and Assembly must pass the measures before Governor Phil Murphy can decide whether to sign them or veto them.
Murphy, a Democrat who won re-election in a tighter-than-expected race in November, also vowed to work to make New Jersey more affordable and tax-friendly.
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