Can I apply for back years of the Senior Freeze rebate?
Here's what you need to know about the Senior Freeze. (pixabay.com)
Q. I am applying for the Senior Freeze for the first time for 2018. My late husband turned 65 in 2013 and he passed away in 2016. Assuming we meet the income limit, can I go back and apply for those years?
A. We're sorry to hear about your husband.
Let's first cover the basics for the Senior Freeze, which reimburses eligible New Jersey residents who are seniors or disabled for property tax increases on their principal residence.
To be eligible for a reimbursement, you must meet all the following requirements for each year from the what's called the "base year" through the application year, said Bernie Kiely, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Kiely Capital Management in Morristown.
"The base year is the first year you met all the eligibility requirements," he said.
You (or your spouse/civil union partner) must have been 65 or older, or actually receiving federal Social Security disability benefit payments due to your own disability.
You must have lived in New Jersey continuously for at least the last 10 years as either a homeowner or a renter. Homeowners must have lived in their current home for at least the last three years.
Generally, all income received during the year must be taken into account when determining eligibility, Kiely said.
This includes income that you do not have to report on your New Jersey tax return, such as Social Security, Disability and tax-exempt interest income.
See this chart from the state that details the income limits for each year. (https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/ptr/incomehistory.pdf)
Each year's income limits are set by that year's state budget, Kiely said.
You stated in your question that your husband turned 65 in 2013.
"If the two of you met the age, residency, home ownership and income limits, then 2013 was his base year," Kiely said. "Your base year is the year you turned 65 and met the other requirements."
If either of you or your husband met the requirements for a prior year but failed to apply for the Senior Freeze, you can apply now, Kiely said.
Just be sure to use the correct form for each year. The forms can be downloaded from the state's website. (https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/)
Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.
Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com's weekly e-newsletter.