Residents will feel sting of losing homestead benefit

I noticed my township’s website recently notified residents that the state will not be giving residents the second quarter homestead benefit to real estate taxes as originally scheduled.

I understand New Jersey, like all states, is going to have many unexpected expenses needed to support efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Even so, the postponement of the second quarter homestead benefit to those homeowners who depend on it can be devastating. This is especially true when many homeowners may likely be unemployed, experiencing a loss of small business income, and are worried about paying their mortgage and/or real estate taxes.

The President, our Senate and our Congress understand they need to help our citizens with emergency aid and stimulus relief. I think Gov. Phil Murphy and our state representatives should reconsider their decision to postpone the homestead benefit.

Hopefully the decision will not lead to further actions whereby the state could even reduce or eliminate the benefit. They need to look elsewhere, explore the abundant sources of wasteful spending and practice better fiscal responsibility. New Jersey’s real estate taxes have for too long been out of control.

The Governor has been urging mortgage holders to take action to postpone monthly mortgage payments and relax possible penalties to homeowners, but yet New Jersey has not taken the same steps with its collection of real estate taxes from those homeowners who pay their real estate taxes directly to their township.

New Jersey and local towns are not offering any postponement in collecting real estate taxes, they are not offering any grace day extensions, and they are not eliminating or reducing the excessive late payment interest and penalties they charge homeowners who may not be able to pay their real estate taxes.

New Jersey’s decision to postpone the homestead benefit negates the effect of emergency aid and stimulus relief for many residents. It’s unfortunate that what our federal government giveth, New Jersey taketh away.

Although financial challenges are real and burdensome, we must keep them in proper perspective. We all know the unselfish sacrifices and personal risks all of our first responders and healthcare professionals take every day. We cannot adequately express how grateful we are to them.

Our hearts go out to those who have been taken ill and especially to those who have lost loved ones. Their loss is so much more significant than any individual’s financial hardship.

Vincent J. Signoriello Sr.