Poll: NJ voters 50 and older are fed up with property taxes
Citing the need to find lower taxes, 41% of New Jersey voters age 50 and older say they've considered fleeing the Garden State over the past year, according to a new poll from AARP New Jersey.
Of that group, more than 80% say they are likely to actually leave.
"Fifty-and-older homeowners say property taxes are their most difficult expense to pay each month, even more than utilities, grocery bills, and health insurance," said Katie York, associate state director of advocacy for AARP New Jersey.
In the poll of more than 1,000 50-plus voters between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, more than a quarter of homeowners said their mortgage payment is at least 40% of their monthly income before taxes. The burden is even greater for renters — 43% put out at least 40% of their monthly income before taxes on rent payments.
Solutions to property tax burden
Nealy 80% of poll respondents said lowering property taxes should be a top priority in New Jersey. This view received majority support among all income brackets and across the political aisle.
"It is clear that people are hungry for change," said Evelyn Liebman, director of advocacy for AARP New Jersey. "With the clear blueprint voters 50 and older have laid out, we will be fighting to pass legislation that provides real relief now for those who need it the most to ensure people can remain in their homes and communities."
When prompted with potential steps to alleviate the burden of property taxes, 80% of respondents said they support the proposal to shift New Jersey's Senior Freeze program from a reimbursement to a credit, so that participants can save money upfront instead of receiving a refund on the back end. Legislation to do exactly that has been introduced but hasn't seen any action.
Close to 80% of voters 50 and older also expressed support for an expansion of eligibility within New Jersey's Homestead Benefit program. Gov. Phil Murphy in March announced plans to increase benefits over three years, stretching the income threshold and offering the perk to certain renters as well.
According to AARP New Jersey, the majority of 50-plus New Jersey voters are not familiar with existing property tax relief programs. Sixteen percent of respondents said their mortgage statement or property tax bill has information about how to access relief programs, and 85% said that information should be included on those documents.