Trenton – The Senate Budget Committee today advanced the landmark tax relief program that will reduce senior citizens’ property tax bills by as much as 50 percent. The legislation would create a new property tax credit program, entitled “StayNJ,” that will make it more affordable for seniors to remain in their New Jersey homes.
The Senate bill, S-1, is sponsored by Senate President Nick Scutari, Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Joe Lagana.
“This is a game changer for New Jersey’s seniors who are getting squeezed by escalating expenses,” said Senator Scutari. “It will provide significant tax relief that will make the state more affordable to live, work and retire. Reducing the burden of property taxes will give senior citizens the financial security they need to remain in New Jersey, where they built their lives. We want to offer seniors and their families the ability to plan their future here in New Jersey.”
The plan includes an immediate boost in property tax relief for senior renters and homeowners under the current Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) program. Eligible senior tenants will now see their relief increased by more than 35 percent to $700 per year and homeowners will receive $1,250 or $1,750, depending on their income. The bill would allocate an additional $140 million to fund the increased benefits.
“Most seniors around the Garden State are living on a fixed income, yet the cost of living continues to rise,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “I want to commend the Speaker and Senate President for putting forward a plan that will provide significant property tax relief for our seniors. Too many residents look beyond our borders when it comes time to retire. The Governor has led on the Anchor Property Tax Program and increasing Senior Freeze and now StayNJ will continue that path for property tax relief to help get seniors as much back as possible from their property tax bills.”
Under StayNJ, homeowners who are 65 years or older would be eligible for the benefit on their principal residence. The state would provide a 50 percent credit on seniors’ property tax bills, capped at $6,500. The amount of the credit would be indexed to future increases in property tax bills.
The income ceiling would be $500,000 for eligibility. Payments would be applied directly to tax bills, with benefits starting on January 1, 2026.
The legislation outlines a gradual funding schedule that will make paying for the benefit affordable and sustainable. The plan would place $100 million, $200 million, and $300 million, respectively, in a lock box over the next three fiscal years to offset the total cost for the first full year of StayNJ.
“We have an affordability crisis in New Jersey and our seniors have been getting squeezed,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen). “This bill would provide targeted relief to some of our most vulnerable taxpayers. No one should have to choose between the home they love and basic necessities, but that is the reality for many people over the age of 65. Our seniors deserve to stay in the homes and communities they grew up in, built their business, or raised their kids. The goal of this bill is for them, and their loved ones, to stay in New Jersey.”
The plan would also expand the “Senior Freeze” property tax relief program by increasing the income eligibility threshold by $50,000 to $150,000 and by decreasing the residency requirement from 10 years to three years.
The bill also calls for the creation of a six-member commission to address any administrative challenges, to simplify and align the various property tax relief programs, and to ensure the tax cut is delivered in a way that is easy for seniors to use.
The committee vote was 12-0.