In Brief

Lawmakers eye another expansion of new tax rebate program

By: - November 11, 2022 6:44 am

Sen. Joe Vitale's bill would allow renters who live in buildings that do not pay traditional property taxes to claim the new ANCHOR tax credit. (Courtesy of New Jersey Senate Democrats)

New Jersey lawmakers are poised for a minor expansion of a newly enacted property tax rebate program.

Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex) earlier this week introduced a bill that would expand awards under the $2 billion ANCHOR program to renters living in buildings that make payments in lieu of taxes.

“This all began when one of my constituents called our office and was curious. They were told by their landlord that, since they were a tenant, they weren’t eligible for the ANCHOR program,” Vitale said. “We did some research and we wanted to make sure the language in the bill was correct.”

ANCHOR provides property tax credits worth up to $1,500 for qualifying homeowners and $450 for tenants, whose rent payments go partially to their landlord’s property taxes. The first round of credits, paid on 2019 tax bills, are due to go out in the spring.

Lawmakers are concerned tenants in buildings that make PILOTs — and therefore do not pay property taxes — could be denied an award.

New Jersey’s PILOT program allows municipalities to grant hefty tax abatements to developments in blighted areas. In some cases, those abatements can last up to 30 years.

It’s not yet clear whether the bill will advance at all. While the measure is unlikely to face opposition from either party, a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), the Vitale district-mate who is likely to sponsor the bill’s Assembly companion, said lawmakers are examining whether they actually needed to change the law.

“The speaker is talking to the administration about whether we move forward administratively or legislatively,” said Cecilia Williams, the spokesperson.

It’s not clear what mechanism the administration could use to expand the pool of ANCHOR recipients unilaterally, and a spokesperson for the governor declined to comment.

Vitale’s bill accomplishes the task by changing language in the annual budget Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law in June.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.