N.J. proposal targets ‘fake’ farmers reaping property-tax credits

A New Jersey Senate panel has advanced legislation to prevent “fake” farmers from getting property tax discounts.

Selling at least $500 worth of farm products grown on five acres of land can now lead to a property tax credit of 98 percent.

A measure sponsored by Sen. Jen Beck, R-Monmouth, would require $1,000 of sales as well as developing guidelines on just what is and isn’t a farm.

“We want to have a system that protects our farmers that actively work the land but doesn’t allow them to get the black eye from the guy that has one peach tree and sells himself $500 worth of peaches,” Beck said Thursday.

Beck says as much as two-thirds of property assessed as farmland in some counties is owned by what she calls “fake farmers” who are trying to escape property taxes.

“So a law that was well intended, trying to protect our agricultural industry, protect people that are working the land, has ultimately been parlayed into a way to escape property taxes,” she said.

Even some elected officials and candidates have come in for criticism for getting the credits. Beck says it’s time to change the law to protect legitimate farmers.

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