Chris Christie’s comments spark debate over realty transfer fees in NJ
FRANKLIN — Several months ago, Scott Packwood, a retired state trooper, started looking for a smaller, less expensive place for his family to live.
The eldest of two daughters was planning to move out after graduating from college, and the family’s 10-room house in the Somerset section of Franklin Township was suddenly larger than he and his wife needed. Property taxes, Packwood said, had also grown to more than $13,000 a year.
“We said enough was enough,” the 52-year-old explained.
The house sold quickly. But when Packwood was about to close on the sale last month, his attorney told him something that shocked him: He had to pay $5,435 for a realty transfer fee imposed by the state.
“It’s painfully ridiculous,” said Packwood, who has since moved to North Brunswick. “I mean, $5,400?”
So when Gov. Chris Christie held a town hall in Somerset last Tuesday, Packwood reserved a spot in the audience, raised his hand, and asked the governor why the fee exists.
“It’s a grab by the government to take more money for no good reason,” Christie said, blaming Democrats for raising the fee years ago. “A sales tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. An income tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A corporate business tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A realty transfer fee? From my perspective, it makes no sense.” (Johnson/Star-Ledger)