TRENTON – Less than three weeks remain for New Jersey senior citizens and disabled people living in homes they own to essentially freeze their property taxes by signing up for a state tax-relief program.

The Senior Freeze application deadline for 2021 taxes is Oct. 31. There is a list of eligibility requirements, including living in New Jersey since the end of 2010 and owning your current home since the end of 2017, as well as an income of $94,178 or less in 2021.

“The Senior Freeze is essential property tax relief for New Jersey’s older residents, supporting their desire and ability to stay in their homes and their communities where they have built their lives,” said Evelyn Liebman, director of advocacy for AARP New Jersey.

Senior Freeze doesn't really freeze your taxes

The program reimburses its participants for increases in property taxes. Income eligibility thresholds were increased starting in 2018, enhanced by more than 30%, but that hasn’t reversed declining enrollment in the program.

“We encourage all eligible residents to take advantage of this important resource,” said state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “We also encourage everyone to check out the eligibility requirements, even those who did not qualify in the past, because the increased income limit has made many more people eligible in recent years.”

At the bottom of the post is an interactive graphic with data for every city and town in New Jersey. But here are a few highlights:

There were 429 towns with fewer Senior Freeze checks in 2020 than in 2015. The biggest losses:

Manchester Twp in Ocean County, down 1,622 to 2,135

Berkeley Twp in Ocean County, down 1,101 to 3,589

Hamilton Twp in Mercer County, down 504 to 2,145

Jersey City in Hudson County, down 440 to 750

Lakewood in Ocean County, down 422 to 829

Clifton in Passaic County, down 422 to 829

Pennsauken in Camden County, down 388 to 1,762

Bayonne in Hudson County, down 378 to 588

Newark in Essex County, down 364 to 909

Woodbridge Twp in Middlesex County, down 363 to 2,314

Townsquare Media NJ
Townsquare Media NJ

There were 122 towns with more Senior Freeze checks in 2020 than in 2015. The 10 biggest gains:

Waterford in Camden County, up 84 to 393

Millville in Cumberland County, up 83 to 732

Upper Township in Cape May County, up 82 to 321

Irvington in Essex County, up 81 to 254

Howell in Monmouth County, up 80 to 834

Little Egg Harbor in Ocean County, up 68 to 913

Hamilton Township in Atlantic County, up 65 to 496

Union Beach in Monmouth County, up 65 to 149

Evesham Twp in Burlington County, up 50 to 965

Wanaque in Passaic County, up 47 to 350

Townsquare Media NJ
Townsquare Media NJ

There are 12 towns where participation in Senior Freeze has gone down in each of the last five years:

Brigantine in Atlantic County

Fairview in Bergen County

Burlington City in Burlington County

Commercial Twp in Cumberland County

Kearny in Hudson County

North Bergen in Hudson County

West New York in Hudson County

Pequannock in Morris County

Manchester in Ocean County

Little Falls in Passaic County

Penns Grove in Salem County

Summit in Union County

There are no towns where participation has gone up each of the last five years – but two went up in four years and had no change in the fifth, so never backslid. Those were:

Pemberton Borough in Burlington County

Lawrence Twp in Cumberland County

How much is a Senior Freeze rebate?

The size of the rebate varies by the homeowner, as it depends on the year when a person becomes eligible and signs up and any subsequent property tax increases in their town.

Last year, when the 2020 reimbursements were paid, the average check received by the program’s 144,537 recipients was $1,237. But those averages were over $3,000 in Allenhurst, Millburn and Deal and less than $250 in Shrewsbury Township and Burlington County’s Washington Township – and for the one home in Walpack that signed up.

The 10 municipalities where the Senior Freeze checks are biggest:

Allenhurst in Monmouth County: $3,337

Millburn in Essex County: $3,220

Deal in Monmouth County: $3,063

Glen Ridge in Essex County: $2,888

South Orange in Essex County: $2,847

Oradell in Bergen County: $2,636

Hopewell Borough in Mercer County: $2,631

Princeton in Mercer County: $2,542

Rumson in Monmouth County: $2,537

Glen Rock in Bergen County: $2,519

Townsquare Media NJ
Townsquare Media NJ

The 10 towns that benefit the most from Senior Freeze, in terms of total money received:

Woodbridge Twp in Middlesex County: $3,991,905

Edison Twp in Middlesex County: $3,126,029

Toms River Twp in Ocean County: $2,784,581

Gloucester Twp in Camden County: $2,414,993

Brick Twp in Ocean County: $2,406,017

Clifton in Passaic County: $2,364,815

Hamilton Twp in Mercer County: $2,303,258

Berkeley Twp in Ocean County: $2,030,261

Union Twp in Union County: $1,834,863

Wayne Twp in Passaic County: $1,730,433

Changes on the way

This could be the last year that people must file a paper application for the program.

It could also be the last year that the Senior Freeze program, known officially as the Homestead Property Tax Reimbursement Program, operates the way it does now – as a rebate check paid the year after the application is filed. A bill advancing through the Senate converts it into a credit subtracted from tax bills.

“The intention of the Senior Freeze is to provide assistance with New Jersey’s sky-high property taxes to vulnerable seniors who deserve a break,” said Sen. Jean Stanfield, R-Burlington. “This small but impactful modification to the program will dramatically simplify the entire reimbursement process so that seniors can receive their credit more efficiently.”

The bill (S259/1501) was endorsed by one committee two weeks ago and now awaits a hearing in the budget committee. That panel meets Thursday but doesn’t have the bill on its agenda.

Under the bill, the credit would be paid on a homeowner’s third-quarter and fourth-quarter tax bills – which Liebman said would be an improvement over the current refund checks that often arrive “many months later.”

“This bill would allow participants who are struggling to afford everything from groceries to gas, medicine these days, to have more resources and better financial security by eliminating that need to wait for that refund,” Liebman said.

“For many older New Jerseyans, having to pay that property tax bill upfront represents a real difficult burden,” she said.

Liebman said New Jersey is home to 1.6 million Social Security beneficiaries, providing an average income of a bit over $20,000 a year. She 26% of recipients rely on Social Security for 90% of their income, and 51% rely on it for 50% of their income.

Some homeowners would continue to receive rebate checks under the bill if they live in a unit in a cooperative, mutual housing corporation or continuing care retirement community and don’t pay taxes directly to their municipality. But the rebates would be paid in their tax year, not the following year.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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2021 NJ property taxes: See how your town compares

Find your municipality in this alphabetical list to see how its average property tax bill for 2021 compares to others. You can also see how much the average bill changed from 2020. For an interactive map version, click here. And for the full analysis by New Jersey 101.5, read this story.

COMPARE: Highest 2020 property taxes in each county

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