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Legislation expands veterans property tax exemption program

With Gov. Phil Murphy out of state, Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) that will expand the veterans property tax exemption program to include veterans living in continuing care retirement communities.

“This tax relief program is one of the many ways in which we show our appreciation for the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our nation,” said Gopal, who chairs the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

“Our soldiers fight for fairness, equality and justice. It’s only right that we treat them with those same ideals when they return home,” he said.

The bill (S-1331), which Oliver signed into law on Aug. 5, would extend the annual $250 deduction on property taxes to any qualified veterans who reside in a continuing care retirement community, according to a press release.

Currently, veterans must own their own home to be eligible for the program, meaning that veterans can actually face higher tax rates after moving into a retirement community such as Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls, according to the press release.

A companion resolution, SCR-110, must be approved by voters in November to formally enshrine the expanded tax relief in New Jersey’s constitution, according to the press release.

“We are proud to say this measure was unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature, but we still have more work to do to inform voters of the importance of this tax relief program before they go to the polls this November,” Downey said.

“While this program can never fully match the incredible service of the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our nation, it is a small, but significant way to express our appreciation for their efforts,” she said.

According to the press release, Tinton Falls Borough Council President Gary Baldwin, a retired Air Force officer, has been fighting to expand this property tax deduction for 18 years.

Baldwin was surprised to learn veterans lose this tax deduction when he sold his home and moved to the Seabrook Retirement Community in Tinton Falls, and decided to fight to expand it to the nearly 3,000 veterans and their spouses across New Jersey who are currently excluded, according to the press release.

“Veterans have been living with this discriminatory process for years and this legislation finally brings fairness to an unfair situation,” Baldwin said. “Every resident of a retirement community like Seabrook already pays taxes on the unit they live in; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t receive this cost-saving deduction as well.”

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