Coughlin Proposes StayNJ Property Tax Relief Program, Additional Benefits for Seniors
In an effort to address the rising costs facing senior citizens across New Jersey, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin unveiled a proposal to cut property taxes in half for most seniors and significantly expand assistance for medical benefits. This week, Speaker Coughlin introduced legislation (A1) that would create a new property tax credit program called StayNJ, which will make it more affordable for residents to stay in their homes. Additional legislation was introduced that will significantly expand medical assistance for health insurance and prescription drugs.
Under StayNJ, the state would provide a 50% credit on seniors’ property tax bills, capped at $10,000. Homeowners who are 65 years or older would be eligible for the tax credit on their principal residence, and there is no income limit for eligibility. Payments would be applied directly to tax bills, with benefits starting on January 1, 2025.
“I’ve heard from people who have to sell the home they raised their children in, and leave the neighborhood they’ve lived in for thirty years, because they can’t afford to stay,”Speaker Coughlin. “My plan, StayNJ, will mean that seniors have the freedom to plan a future in New Jersey with friends and loved ones they’ve spent a lifetime making memories with.”
The plan builds on efforts to make New Jersey more affordable. Governor Murphy and Democrats in the legislature have enacted 18 tax cuts over the past five years. Last year’s budget included the largest tax relief program in state history, which included the ANCHOR property tax rebate program. Assembly Democrats are committed to continuing the ANCHOR program in the next fiscal year.
The legislation would establish a common application for seniors to apply for StayNJ, ANCHOR or the Senior Freeze program. The state will determine which property tax program provides the greatest benefit for the applicant.
“StayNJ is a game changer for our seniors and their families,” said Assembly Majority Leader and co-sponsor Lou Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “Too many seniors struggle to keep pace with rising costs while on fixed incomes. Seniors shouldn’t have to choose between staying close to their grandchildren and affording groceries or a night out. StayNJ will give our seniors the much needed relief they deserve.”
The legislation outlines a gradual funding schedule that will make paying for the benefit affordable and sustainable.
“We have spent five years getting our fiscal house in order,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, (D-Bergen, Passaic), Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “We have carefully managed our expenses, and now we can make smart investments to move our state forward and think about making things more affordable. I know StayNJ will make a big difference in the lives of seniors in my district and across the state.”
Speaker Coughlin also introduced two other bills that will help thousands of seniors with their prescription drug and health insurance costs by expanding eligibility to existing programs.
One bill (A2) increases the income eligibility threshold and eliminates the asset test for Medicare Savings Programs. Income limits would increase to $29,160 for single residents and $39,440 for married couples, up from the current range of up to $20,000 for a single resident and $26,622 for married couples. Seniors who participate in Medicare Savings Programs would receive an average benefit of more than $2,200 on their premiums alone.
Another bill (A3) raises income eligibility for the PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program) and Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program. Under the legislation, an applicant with an income equal to or less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line is eligible for PAAD. In 2023, 400 percent of the federal poverty line is $58,320 for an individual and $78,880 if married. The bill also eliminates the Senior Gold income threshold to capture all seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Additionally, the bill requires the state to set up an automatic enrollment system for Senior Gold. These programs cover prescriptions excluded by primary insurance, eliminating the risk of extremely expensive uncovered medicine. Newly eligible seniors below 400 percent of the federal poverty level would see a benefit of more than $700 annually and seniors above that threshold would see an average benefit of more than $400.
“With StayNJ and the expansions of these healthcare programs, seniors will be able to envision retirement in their communities with their friends and loved ones,” said Speaker Coughlin. “I look forward to working with Senate President Nicholas Scutari, our colleagues in the Senate, and Governor Phil Murphy to ensure that making New Jersey more affordable is a focus as we look towards enacting a state budget this year.”
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I appreciate the action of Craig Conklin in helping seniors (like me) have more of a chance of staying in Nee Jersey and being able to “age in place.” I hope this law comes to fruition. Thank you, Mr Conklin. We should have more representatives like you in our government!
I’m a 76 year old retired teacher. My husband passed away in 2000. While I have a pension and social security, my property taxes are $17,000 per year. I do not qualify for a tax freeze because I make just above the limit. My daughter was 13 when my husband passed away. NJ does not allow for COLA n my pension. Therefore I live paycheck to paycheck. My home needs repair but I cannot afford them. You wish to cap the property tax relief at $10,000 but what about those of us who pay more. The cost of my taxes rise yearly and so do utilities and groceries. I’m not sure how long I can remain in NJ. My fixed income doesn’t even qualify for a raise. NJ is not senior friendly. While I appreciate good schools ( I am a retired teacher who has given 49 years of service to NJ schools) there should be a different tax rate for those of us who no longer have children in the school system. I am finding it difficult to maintain my home and continue living in this state. NJ is forcing people like myself to leave the state. HELP! NJ should help the senior population so that we could continue to live in the state that has always been our home. I’m sorry my grandparents ever settled here when they came to America from Italy. My home and family have always lived here but in my golden years, I probably will have to live alone in another state because I can no longer afford to live in NJ. I’m too rich to be poor and qualify for tax relief and other services but I’m too poor to be rich. Most all seniors like myself feel the same way.
Someone who is sorry to be living in NJ
100% in support of this!
Thank you sir and it is about time there should be a focus on keeping lifelong residents in NJ as well as attracting new ones. I celebrate you and hope to heck it passes. Sandy Chiera Miholics
The bigger issue is why is NJ property tax so high. We need to revisit the causes and make reduction to everything that may be only benefit a few and eliminate them. Everything is a great idea but where is the funds comes from? The answer is all of us. Yes, I also agreed with reducing the tax burden as being proposed by this legislation.
This would really help with staying or leaving NJ
The retired teacher above complains about the ever higher property taxes. Yet, she is one of the many teachers who are members of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) that have caused the meteoric and massive property tax increases over the past couple of decades. Teachers all want increased pay and pensions, but when they retire you see a majority of them leaving New Jersey for more affordable, no-tax and/or low or no property tax states linked to education taxes. NJ teachers use the NJEA to gouge taxpayers for larger salaries (teachers with a Masters Degree and 32 credits beyond can earn between $125,000-$150,000 annually, including medical and pensions). They work for 30 years and then leave NJ, leaving us property taxpayers high and dry. And, the current education system is a total failure with many urban and suburban children unable to pass reading and math at their respective grade levels.
So, no, I don’t feel sorry for the retired teacher above. She reaped what she sowed, and is now suffering the debacle known as the NJEA–just like the rest of us property taxpayers.
While I do not like Marxists in DC any more than most people, people forget the fact that collectivism is part of living in a society. You don’t really believe that your neighbor will build and maintain the street in front of his house all on his own and at his expense, so that you can drive to and from your house, do you? And as far as unions, the gubbermint requires collective bargaining for gubbermint workers, a.k.a. contracts negotiated by unions. And as far as inflation goes, anybody who is on a fixed income resents endless money printing and the resulting inflation, the purpose of which is to make your 401k skyrocket.
This is a great way for seniors to stay in their homes and in New Jersey I know personally in one state seniors that are 65 years or older and have lived in their primary home in their state for 1 year have their property taxes cut in half
I just hope the democrats in the assembly senate and governors mansion get this done asap. I’m 70 and these bills would be a Godsend! From speaker Coughlin lips to Gods ears!
This is real change that directly assists people who have done the right thing their whole lives. Worked hard, paid their taxes, raised their families and paid for college educations. Right now we are getting hit financially hard from all sides. Inflation of food prices, gasoline, insurance costs, utility costs, soaring college tuition costs, tolls costs, healthcare costs, prescription drugs. You make it and it costs more. Oh, and NJ homeowners also lost the SALT income tax deduction on top of all this. And yet, NOBODY in Trenton seems to care except Speaker Coughlin. This proposal is real help to people who DESERVE and NEED help. Governor Murphy is tone deaf on property taxes and seniors. He pays over $200,000 in property taxes on his NJ home and thinks it’s wonderful!