CHESILHURST, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said he intends to restore property tax rebates to some New Jersey homeowners.
However, the check won’t be in the mail.
Christie told a town hall meeting in Chesilhurst on Monday that he’ll reinstitute the rebate this spring and eligible residents will get them quarterly as a credit on their property tax bills.
That prospect matches what was approved in the state budget adopted last year, when the rebates were to be skipped for most of the year as the state fixed an $11 billion budget gap.
Rebates have long been the state government’s main attempt to help residents deal with the nation’s highest average property tax bill, which now amounts to more than $7,000 per home. The taxes are used to fund county and local governments and schools.
The amounts have fluctuated along with the state’s fiscal situation. Critics, including Christie have said the annual checks amounted to political gimmicks because they used to be sent in the fall, not long before Election Day.
Christie says he’ll eliminate the checks because they cost money to print and mail. He also said the state used to have to borrow money and pay interest on the rebates because they were made during the fall.
Spokesman Michael Drewniak said Tuesday that rebate details would be released next month when the governor proposes his state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Drewniak would not say which taxpayers would qualify for the rebates under the governor’s plan.
Eligibility and the size of rebates have shifted frequently.
The last time there were refunds was in 2009, when senior citizens who made under $150,000 and younger homeowners with incomes under $75,000 were eligible. The average rebate was around $1,000.
Christie is trying other methods to hold down property taxes. One of the main initiatives of the Republican’s first year in office was to institute a 2 percent cap on property tax increases, with some exceptions. Previously, there had been a 4 percent cap with a longer list of exceptions.
Christie and lawmakers have been working on other bills designed to help local governments and school districts hold down their costs.
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