At the election on November 5, 2019, voters in New Jersey will decide a constitutional amendment to expand the state’s veterans’ property tax deduction to eligible veterans living in continuing care retirement centers.
In New Jersey, veterans who were honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty are eligible to receive a $250 deduction from their property tax bill. Surviving spouses of honorably discharged veterans who are decreased or soldiers who died on active duty during a war can also claim the deduction as well.
The constitutional amendment would extend the $250 deduction to otherwise eligible veterans and surviving spouses who live in continuing care retirement centers. The retirement centers would receive the deductions on behalf of the veterans and surviving spouses living there and be required to pass the deductions on to veterans and surviving spouses in the form of a payment or credit. The Office of Legislative Services Estimate projects that the expanded deduction would cost between $350,000 and $550,000 per year.
Since the enactment of the current state constitution in 1947, New Jersey has provided veterans with property tax benefits. The original benefit was a $500 exemption from a property’s assessed value. The benefit was changed from an exemption on assessed value to a $50 deduction from a property tax bill in 1963. In 1999, voters passed a constitutional amendment to increase the deduction from $50 to $250 over four years.
The constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot for voter consideration after receiving unanimous approval in the state Senate on May 30, 2019, and the House on June 20, 2019. It was sponsored by a bipartisan group of seven state senators.
The legislature can refer additional constitutional amendments, along with bond measures, to the state’s November ballot until three months before the election, which is August 5, 2019. Between 1995 and 2017, an average of one constitutional amendment has appeared on odd-year ballots in New Jersey. Of the 31 constitutional amendments on the ballot during that period, voters approved 28 (90 percent) of them. The New Jersey constitutional amendment is the 22nd ballot measure to be certified 2019 statewide ballot.