New Jersey politicians are proposing a new tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest residents in the state.
The proposal, which is being spearheaded by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, would provide eligible homeowners over 65 a property tax credit—capped at $10,000—equal to half of their property tax bill beginning in January 2025.
The proposal has been met with criticism from a number of groups, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and progressive activist Lisa McCormick.
These groups argue that the proposal is misguided and would do little to help low-income seniors who are struggling to afford housing.
“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,” said Peter Chen, Senior Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective. “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 StayNJ tax cuts won’t help financially struggling seniors in New Jersey to remain in their homes but it will end up giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest homeowners in the state – while ignoring low-income seniors who rent their homes,” said Lisa McCormick. “StayNJ would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest seniors who own the highest-valued homes while it excludes renters.”
The proposal is also being criticized for its high cost. The state would have to spend $1.2 billion annually to fund the tax credit, money that could be better spent on other priorities, such as education, healthcare, and public safety.
“The StayNJ proposal is a poorly designed giveaway to the wealthy,” said Michael Leachman, a Senior Vice President for State Fiscal Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It’s unnecessarily expensive, it’s not based on need, and it leaves out renters entirely.”
It is unclear whether the StayNJ proposal will be passed by the legislature.
However, the fact that it is being proposed at all is a sign of the growing inequality in New Jersey. The state’s property taxes are among the highest in the nation, and the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than ever before.
The StayNJ proposal would only widen this gap and make it harder for low-income seniors to afford to stay in their homes.