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Murphy, lawmakers agree to senior tax relief package

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(The Center Square) — New Jersey seniors could get a break on their property tax bills under a deal between Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders, but that relief won’t come for several years.

Under the proposal, which emerged from negotiations between Murphy and other top Democrats, New Jerseyans 65 and older and making less than $500,000 a year would get an annual tax credit equal to 50% of their property tax bill, with a cap of $6,500. The only catch: they won’t be receiving the credit until 2026.

In a statement, Murphy and other New Jersey Democrats boasted that the $1.3 billion “StayNJ” plan would deliver “historic property tax relief” for New Jersey seniors while paying off pension debt, providing more education aid and other investments.

“No one should have to choose between retiring in the place they’ve long called home and their ability to afford to age here,” Murphy said in remarks. “This compromise agreement prioritizes equity and affordability to decisively level the playing field for New Jersey seniors.”

The deal will also provide a $250 per year increase in aid through the state’s ANCHOR property tax relief program to senior homeowners and tenants over the next two years.

Eligible senior tenants will now see their relief boosted by more than 35% to $700 per year, and homeowners will receive $1,250 or $1,750, depending on their income, according to the Murphy administration.

House Speaker Craig Coughlin called the tax relief plan a “monumental step to make New Jersey more affordable for seniors.”

“New Jersey is already a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” he said. “Now it will be a place where you can retire with dignity and the freedom to choose to stay.”

The issue of tax relief for seniors had threatened to divide the two Democratic leaders, with Murphy pushing back against Coughlin’s proposal to provide New Jerseyans 65 and older a property tax credit of up to $10,000.

But Republican lawmakers criticized the compromise plan for not providing immediate tax relief to seniors, accusing Democrats of playing politics with the tax cuts.

“Trenton Democrats are trying to buy votes this year with the promise they’ll deliver StayNJ property tax relief starting in 2026,” state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Montville, said in a statement. “They’re as believable as Wimpy from Popeye who promises, ‘I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’”

Senate Republicans have proposed their “Give It Back” tax relief plan that calls for providing $4.3 billion of property tax relief to towns and counties. But the Democratic-controlled House or Senate hasn’t taken up the measure.

“Republicans believe New Jerseyans deserve property tax relief today, not three years from now,” Pennacchio said. “Since the money is in the bank right now, we believe we should provide property tax relief right now.”

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