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Q. Last year I had an accountant complete the Senior Freeze application and I got a bill for $360. It stated that it took two hours at $180 per hour. Note that this accountant prepares my taxes and had all my information. My base year was established and I received only $34 from the state! Is there a senior citizen facility that would complete the form for a nominal fee?
— Senior

A. We’re sorry to hear this transaction barely landed in your favor.

Let’s first cover what needs to be done for the Senior Freeze.

The PTR-1 form must be completed by a first-time applicant, said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.

It is a four-page document that gathers information about income and property taxes so that the state can determine whether the applicant qualifies for a benefit, she said.

The Senior Freeze is available to New Jersey residents age 65 or older or who are receiving federal Social Security disability benefit payments as of Dec. 31, 2019.

“Age and income are two factors as well as how long someone has in their residence or mobile home,” she said. “As a rule, there is a three-year residency requirement.”

Generally, in order to be eligible, you must have lived in your home prior to Dec. 31, 2016 and remained in the home through Dec. 21, 2020, she said.

You also must be a continuous resident of New Jersey for at least the last 10 years, as either a homeowner or a renter. Property tax payments or mobile home site fees must be up to date.

The total annual income limit for 2019 is $91,505 and for 2020 it is $92,969. 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.

“Once a resident is enrolled in the program, they will receive a personalized copy of a form PTR-2 that must be updated to reflect current income and property tax information,” Mott said. “The completed form must include copies of property tax bills along with proof of payment. All applications must be filed on or before Oct. 31, 2022.”

While there are no specific providers of a service such as the one you are looking for, the Senior Freeze hotline has an option for those in need of assistance with the application and might be the first place to start, Mott said.

That number is (800) 882-6597.

Another alternative might be to reach out to the office of aging or senior services for the county in which you live to ask if they have anyone who could offer help with the form, she said.

The PTR-2 instruction form lists VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) as two additional potential resources. Locations for those services can be obtained from the hotline number above or online here. 

“Given that some of the information needed comes from each individual’s tax return, using your tax preparer to work through that section of the form when you meet to review your return might still be an approach worth considering,” Mott said.

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This story was originally published on March 22, 2022.

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