New Jersey lawmakers consider ways to update state’s Homestead Rebate

There are growing calls to update how New Jersey determines a rebate that affects a half-million homeowners in the state.
The Homestead Rebate is calculated using data from 15 years ago and it could be costing New Jersey residents.
Homeowners making less than $75,000 per year, along with senior citizens or blind or disabled residents who own their home and make less than $150,000 per year are eligible for the rebate program. But they may be getting stiffed by the state.
“We’re doing a lot of program, but this kind of program really hasn’t seen a bump since the Corzine administration,” says Democratic state Assemblyman John Burzichelli.
The state has used property tax bills from 2006 to estimate one’s Homestead Rebate, which is deducted from the property tax bill. While the rebates have mostly held flat over the last 15 years, the average property tax bill in the state went up 40% since 2006.
“There’s a lot of interest in doing more to get relief to the people,” Burzichelli says.
Republicans like Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick say that even updating the rebate program won't solve New Jersey's high property taxes.
"I don't think that's the problem in New Jersey. So yeah, would I be in favor of raising it by $100? Yeah, sure great. Doesn't solve the problem. You're just taking it from Peter, giving it to Paul, during an election year. That's it,” Bramnick says.
This debate comes as the federal state and local tax cap remains in place. It does not allow homeowners to deduct more than $100,000 in state and local taxes. The Homestead Rebate is just one of several state programs designed to offset high property taxes, from the Senior Freeze, to $250 worth of deductions for veterans, to new $500 rebates from Gov. Phil Murphy’s millionaire’s tax.
“It's the mechanism we have to work with until New Jerseyans decide they want change in a bigger way,” Burzichelli says. "New Jerseyans are screaming loud and clear that they want reform, but they don't want change. And that's an impossible parameter to work within."
Burzichelli says the state Assembly could start budget hearings as soon as next week. Those hearings will be public, but will be conducted remotely.