Q. I didn’t qualify for Senior Freeze in the 2018 to 2019 years because my taxes didn’t go up, but they skyrocketed in 2020. I meet all the requirements for the Freeze except I didn’t file state or federal tax returns in 2019 because I didn’t make the minimum required to file. Should I file a 2019 return before filing for the 2020 Senior Freeze? — Senior
A. The Senior Freeze is a benefit that is available for those age 65 or older or residents who are receiving federal Social Security Disability benefit payments as of Dec. 31, 2019
As you noted, there are a number of factors that must be met in order to qualify for the Senior Freeze.
“Age, length of residency, and income are three of them, but filing a tax return is not a requirement,” said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.
The additional requirements for apply for the Senior Freeze include being a continuous resident of New Jersey for at least the last 10 years, as either a homeowner or a renter, being up-to-date on property tax payments and there are income limits, also, Mott said.
For the 2019 Freeze, you can’t earn more than $91,505. For 2020, it’s $92,969, she said.
This limit applies regardless of your marital or civil union status so long as you both lived in the same household as of Dec. 31, she said
Those who are filing for the first time must complete form PTR-1 which is available here.
“The instructions for the form step through all of the different sources of income that must be included in the calculation of total income,” Mott said. “There are also worksheets to help with the calculation of withdrawals for pensions, annuities and IRAs as the amount that is taxable in New Jersey is different from the federal level.”
So to answer your question, no, you’re not required to file a tax return first. Directions on how to calculate your income can be found here.
You can also call (800) 882-6597 if you need assistance.
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.