TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Brian P. Stack and Sandra Bolden Cunningham which would establish a 21-day grace period for property tax installment payments for seniors on fixed incomes was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.
“Even in strong economic times, seniors on fixed incomes have a hard time meeting the State’s high cost of living, especially soaring property taxes,” said Senator Stack, D-Hudson. “This measure is intended to give our senior homeowners a little flexibility in budgeting their limited incomes to pay their health care expenses, energy bills and all the other cost drivers associated with living in the Garden State. Seniors shouldn’t have to face financial penalties – in addition to the other costs of living in New Jersey – for being a few days late in paying their property taxes.”
The bill, S-2062, would grant low-income senior citizens a 21-day grace period to pay their quarterly property taxes in municipalities that have established penalties for non-payment of taxes. The bill would direct this grace period to seniors whose annual income makes them eligible for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) or the “Lifeline Credit Program,” which provides credits against utility charges. For 2008, the maximum eligible income levels for these programs are $23,092 for single individuals, or $28,313 for married couples. The income cap is adjusted each year by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to reflect inflation and other cost-of-living drivers.
“This exemption would apply to low-income seniors who need are help the most in making ends meet in New Jersey,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “Unfortunately, our home state is one of the most unaffordable places to live in the entire nation. These seniors aren’t trying to cheat the system, but they are trying to find a balance between the many bills they have to pay in a given month, and they should be given some consideration from our communities.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.