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LETTER: Seniors being forced to flee New Jersey


file photo by Boyd Loving

12:05 a.m. ET Feb. 21, 2017

Why is New Jersey forcing senior citizens to flee the state?

After decades of contributing as full-fledged members of our communities throughout New Jersey, we find ourselves increasingly forced to flee the state due to the burdensome and discriminatory nature of property taxes for seniors on fixed incomes.

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, an average of $8,500 per year versus the national average of $3,800. However, you know these facts. What you don’t know is that for senior citizens, who often live in adult communities to reduce their expenses, the property tax burden is disproportionately higher — often 17-20 percent of a senior’s annual income, and climbing.

The issue of taxes is always a complicated decision for leaders, to allocate resources equitably among disparate interests and groups. The Abbott decision, for example, appropriately (and importantly) required the commitment of state education funding to support urban districts. But funding decisions by the governor and state Legislature, over time, had unintended consequences as well.

The shifting of aid to education in some areas of the state, without increasing overall state aid to education, has resulted in communities being forced to fund local education through higher property taxes. The unintended — but real consequence of this trend — has resulted in retirees (on fixed incomes) being forced to pay disproportionately higher taxes.

2 thoughts on “LETTER: Seniors being forced to flee New Jersey

  1. At a recent council meeting I asked the council to consider asking our CFO to prepare a report on the feasibility of a property tax reduction, such as 10%, for seniors–whether all seniors or only those with income under a certain level (based on income tax returns) TBD. Other towns do this. It’s fiscally sound for all: a house sold by one or two seniors will go to a family with children, further burdening the school system. With our new all-day kindergarten, and the strong possibility of numerous new apartments looming, we will attract more people with very young children attending school from K through 12. Seniors are around during the day to keep an eye on the neighborhood when others are at work. Seniors volunteer and patronize stores, restaurants, the movie theater, and services such as hair salons on weekdays. A tax reduction each year, especially as taxes rise but a fixed income does not, might help some seniors to remain. Another point that needs to be far more widely known is that seniors with income under a specified amount are entitled to a property tax reduction through the state. The council and website should announce this and provide details, links, forms at Village Hall, etc.

  2. We want to stay in Ridgewood but on a significantly reduced income it may not be possible. Yes, our mortgage is long paid, But our taxes have increased astronomically. Our quarterly payment is more than my Social Security for 4 months, so all my Social Security for the year goes entirely to taxes. Thank heavens my husband also has Social Security but it is not enough to cover all other expenses .A reduction in taxes could make the difference between staying here or selling our 4 bedroom Colonial to a family with children. Such a family would cost the Village way more in services than we do now.

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