Senior Tax Credit Proposal Falls Short of Helping Seniors With the Lowest Incomes

As written, StayNJ would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest seniors in the state who own the highest-valued homes.

Published on May 26, 2023 in Economic Justice, Tax and Budget

On Friday, new details of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s senior tax credit program were released to the public. The proposal would create a new program, StayNJ, that would provide a tax credit worth 50 percent of a senior’s property tax bill, with credits capped at $10,000. Because the proposal would provide maximum benefits to those with property tax bills of $20,000 and up, and does not include an income limit on eligibility, the program would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest seniors in the state who own the highest-valued homes. In response to the newly released bill text, New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) released the following statement.

Peter Chen, Senior Policy Analyst, NJPP:

“Lawmakers should be doing everything they can to help seniors keep up with rising costs, but this proposal would fall short by directing the biggest tax cuts to the wealthiest households while many low-income seniors would get nothing. With no income cap on eligibility, higher tax credits for more expensive homes, and no assistance for renters, it’s clear who this program would benefit and who it would leave behind. The program also comes at an enormous cost to the state, just as revenue collections are coming in lower than expected, putting funding for existing public programs and services that seniors rely on at risk.

“Making New Jersey more affordable for seniors is a noble goal, but we’re not going to get there by giving the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Phil Murphy a $10,000 check. There are more effective and efficient ways to target relief to the seniors who are struggling the most with high housing costs, grocery bills, and prescription drug prices.”

The StayNJ proposal would benefit wealthy homeowners the most, leave renters behind, and widen the racial wealth gap:

  • Homeowners with property tax bills in excess of $20,000 would receive the maximum StayNJ credit while lower-income residents would receive less due to their smaller homes and lower property tax bills.
  • Only thirteen municipalities in New Jersey — including Alpine, Millburn, Rumson, and Princeton — have an average property tax bill that would qualify for the full StayNJ credit. These towns have average property values of over $1 million and are home to celebrities, professional athletes, and business and finance executives.
  • One in four seniors aged 65 and over — roughly 230,000 New Jersey residents — rent their homes and would be left out of the proposal, including more than half of Black and Hispanic/Latinx seniors in the state.
  • Homeowners over age 65 in New Jersey are disproportionately white. More than 80 percent of white seniors are homeowners, compared to 41 percent of Hispanic/Latinx seniors and 49 percent of Black seniors.
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