Officials in New Jersey are urging people to apply for property tax relief under the new ANCHOR program before the Jan. 31, 2023 deadline.
Qualified homeowners making less than $150,000 in 2021 will receive a tax credit of $1,500, while those making $150,000 to $250,000 will get a tax credit of $1,000. Renters who made $150,000 or less will receive a direct check for $450.
The program was a key component of this year’s state budget. Democrats claim it will make the state more affordable, despite Republicans asserting the program would not do enough.
The Murphy Administration said Monday that roughly half of the state’s expected two million eligible residents have already applied. In the fall, state leaders extended the application deadline from October to January to include people enrolled in a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.
Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Somerset) noted that, historically, raising public awareness about first-time programs like ANCHOR can be challenging.
“It’s brand new, it’s new in scope, I think it takes time [to get people] to become aware of something that passes in the budget in the end of June, to rolling out with a deadline in October,” Freiman said. “We want to make sure we get the actual refund checks out as quickly as possible.”
Peter Chen, a policy analyst with the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), said tax credit programs like ANCHOR are hard to implement and the application process can be complex and laborious, which he worries may discourage some from applying.
“The more qualifications requirements that are required to access a program rather than automated, automatic or universal programs, the harder it is for people to actually access the benefit,” Chen said. “The more likely it is to be concentrated among higher income groups.”
Chen said property tax benefits are more accessible when there is less paperwork involved, but warned the trade off is a longer turnaround time to process applications. Chen added that New Jersey’s tax system infrastructure may not be able to handle a heavy influx of applications or application-related inquiries.
“Unfortunately, the reality is, the people who are struggling to make ends meet, day-to-day, are also the people who have the least time, the least energy, and the least capacity to go and wait on hold to see if they qualify,” Chen said.
Democrats hope to begin sending rebate checks to people by spring 2023.
The state has set up a hotline for ANCHOR-related questions at 1-888-238–1233. The Division of Taxation has a list of frequently asked questions on its website.