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Smith-Sweeney Bill To Exempt Energy Savings From Property Tax Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Environment Committee Chair Bob Smith and Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney which would allow taxpayers to apply for a property tax exemption for energy cost saving measures was unanimously approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.

“New Jersey has a strong track record of promoting and incentivizing green technology,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset. “This bill is another step in that direction, offering tax breaks for property owners seeking to minimize their carbon footprint and reliance on natural resources. We need to continue to encourage environmental conscience and ensure that environmentally-sound improvements aren’t cost-prohibitive for property owners.”

The bill, S-710, would establish a property tax exemption for any alteration to an existing property structure designed to reduce energy use or water consumption. The bill would apply to residential, commercial or industrial properties, and the energy savings structure must be certified by a local enforcing agency, such as a municipal code enforcement official before tax exempt status can be granted.

The bill would also require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities, to create technical standards for energy cost savings measures for the purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption. Municipal enforcement officials would make final determination, based on the DCA standards as to the eligibility of applications.

“New Jersey property taxpayers already face some of the highest property taxes in the country, and some of the highest cost-of-living expenses too,” said Senate Majority Leader Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “At a time when fuel prices are soaring – not just for cars, but also home heating – and energy costs continue to take up a large portion of family income, we should not penalize property owners for seeking energy cost savings. This bill would ensure that taxpayers see a real cost benefit for energy-saving improvements, as opposed to seeing cost savings eaten up by a higher property tax levy.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for review, before going to the full Senate for consideration.

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