Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Jersey - Highest Property Taxes in the U.S.

From the AP:

Barbara Lehman has lived in this central New Jersey community for 30 years, but her time here is nearing an end.

She sent her children through Montgomery's well-regarded schools. And she enjoys the rolling landscape even as housing developments have spread across it in recent years.

But her property taxes have climbed 56 percent since 2000 to a knee-buckling $14,000 a year — a heavy load for a high school French teacher whose salary goes up only about 3 percent a year.

"Oh, it's terrible," Lehman said.

Despite efforts by governors and lawmakers to do something about it, New Jersey has the highest property taxes in America — a burden that is alarming young couples and retirees alike and deepening public cynicism in a state with a long and rich history of graft and self-dealing.

The average property owner in the Garden State pays about $6,000 a year in property taxes, twice the national average.

A recent analysis by The New York Times found property taxes increased two to three times faster than personal income from 2000 to 2004 in the suburbs surrounding New York City. New Jersey's booming Somerset County — where Montgomery is situated — got slammed harder than anywhere else in the region, with property taxes climbing 41 percent there while income increased but 5 percent.
Susan Horowitz and her husband just marked their 30th year in Montgomery, but they are unsure how long they will be staying. Both are retired teachers who have watched their property taxes nearly double since 2000 to about $12,500 per year.

"I look at my pension as paying my property taxes," Horowitz said. "We love living here and as long as we can afford the taxes — because we've paid off our mortgage — we'd like to stay here, but we just don't know."
Some lawmakers are looking into merging school systems and municipalities but are likely to run into resistance from local officeholders if they try to force the issue.

Another reason for high property taxes: State and local government owe billions per year to the state's public employee pension system, which has been riddled by abuses.

Also, by court order, the state must send huge chunks of school aid to struggling urban schools, meaning less money is available for middle-class districts.


Blogger RichinNorthnj said...

Maplewood & S. Orange Each Receive $200,000 from State for Tax Relief

8/10/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better than paying rents of $2,000 a month or more than anywhere in the 5 boros in NYC.

At least you can deduct property taxes. You can't deduct a years worth of $25,000 - $40,000 in rent payments for a shoebox apartment.

Of course if you don't make six figures or are 25 and come from old money then you will hate living in this region completely.

8/10/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger RichinNorthnj said...

NJ meets on School Funding Plan Today

Maybe it’s time we took a quick break from this blog, looked on-line for our own local legislators and wrote them a short note about how you feel about property tax?

8/10/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$200k--and that's per household!



ps: And since we're in a joking mood, please note that there's never been a better time to buy!

8/10/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

How is losing tens to hundreds of thousands in "equity" + paying taxes that cost more than paying rent "better than paying rent"?

At some point (long ago) the tax deduction becomes irrelevant.

Many ordinary Maplewood homes, for example, pay $15,000+ in property taxes. That's for houses in the $700K range. Staggering PITI numbers.

8/10/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Rich, did NOT know that Abbott schools accounted for 22% of student populations, but 55% of state funding.

At what point do the parents of Abbott school students see some return on that investment--or, for that matter, taxpayers who don't live in an Abbott school district?

8/10/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger RichinNorthnj said...

You’re truly annoying.
It’s always the same thing, your “observations” of others and how you can’t afford to live here. Bitching isn’t going to change it, so please stop.
Otherwise, move or work to improve your situation. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

8/10/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger RichinNorthnj said...

Last post was for Anon 4:26!

8/10/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger delford said...

anon: You can deduct property taxes? You do know that you can only deduct a portion of your property taxes right? I hope so.

Sure get your property tax dedution, the write off will help, when you are 50 to 100K or more under water, in your 50+ yr old colonial,with 12k in property taxes, but hey youc can write them off. You do know you cannot write the entire amount off right? Please say yes.

8/10/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Math, like gravity, is law. said...

"a state with a long and rich history of graft and self-dealing"

Don't those words from a third party, just jump out at you? Next time you vote, be sure to vote for someone who respects private property rights, such an individual is hard to find in NJ. The acid test is where they stand on the New London case (Belo) and where they stand on Gun Rights. If they waffle on either of those, they want your stuff, your kids stuff, and your grandkids stuff.

8/10/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger RichinNorthnj said...

This article is from Sunday, Aug. 6 but it does have some interesting information as to how the committees are too “attack” the property tax issue.

Lawmakers Continue Examination of NJ's Property Taxes

”Three panels, each charged with delving into a different cause of the ballooning taxes, are to meet starting Tuesday. A fourth committee, formed to investigate whether the state constitution should be changed, held its first meeting Friday.”

Everyone still has time to express their feelings about property taxes to their legislator:

“The legislative committees have until Nov. 15 to finalize property tax reform legislation.”

” On Tuesday, the panel examining how the state can entice its 1,389 local governments to either consolidate or share services will hold its first meeting.”

”The panel that will examine reforming public employee benefits and pensions is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday.”

On Thursday, the panel formed to study New Jersey's school funding will hold its initial meeting.

”Each committee will hold its first meetings in Trenton, but Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., D-Camden, said he also expects them to hold meetings throughout the state.
He contends the hearings won't "fall prey to being just another academic or rhetorical exercise on property taxes."
"The members of these joint committees have a shared mission of turning property tax reform concepts into reality," Roberts said.”

Call or write your town, county and state legislators. It doesn't have to be a long letter, just let them know your there.

PS Renters in NJ can apply for... what was it called... Home Rebate? I can't remember the name but I know you can apply on you NJ Income tax form.

8/10/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Math, like gravity, is law. said...


It is all talk and politricks, the solution is not brain surgery, the "problems" are within, these exercises are equivalent to placing ether masks on the citizenry of NJ. If the voters of NJ took the time to see what their rep's have spent their time on over the last 10 years, and what types of legislation they put their signature on they would feel EXACTLY as they would after their home was burglarized.

8/10/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on guys. Of course we have the highest taxes, it is because we all make over 200k and live on the oh so "it is just a stone's throw away from NYC" land!! Who wouldn't want to pay a premium for this state??!!!

8/10/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the fact that Barbara, a HS French teacher, has it so bad that she's ending up in such a horrible, horrible place:

"I will miss it, but I'm moving somewhere where my taxes are a little lower," said Lehman, who plans to move to Long Beach Island."

I'm laughing just thinking about it. I thought she was gonna say Tennesee or West Virginia.

Teachers in many parts of the country have to cut back after retirement, move somewhere inexpensive, and get a part-time job - like at Walmart. In NJ? They go to LBI!

I doubt Barbara will be working front door at the Walmart in Toms River.

LOL ..teachers. Gotta love 'em.

And Annie, if you are reading this, sorry for the insult, but come on, admit it - IT'S FUNNY!


8/10/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Folks, if you're bored, please take a few seconds and flag this realtor's craiglist posts as SPAM:

This realtor keeps posting links about how great she is, and to give her a call, in the property listings.

Give her some spam flags, if you have a few seconds.

She keeps posting new spam every day.

8/10/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a guy, unrealtor:

Maybe a former Polo squirter.

Yep, I'd flag him. (I go for the dentures and liesure suits..more trustworthy.)


8/10/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, their is no limit to some
peoples stupidity.

8/10/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Wow, nice work guys, his/her spam is auto-deleting from craiglist.

Only one spam left now!

8/10/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

"Maybe a former Polo squirter."

I'm afraid to ask what that means. :)

8/10/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its like a cream pie

8/10/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Oh, this is a laugh:

"Animal Friendly Real Estate Agent"

"I love all animals. I'm a big time dog owner. That's why I feel that it is very important to come up with a pet sensitive game plan when listing your home."

Apparently this is not a parody!

8/10/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this will be interesting.

Inventory is at a 9 year high.
Will high taxes force sales at
discounted prices?

8/10/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Escape from NJ said...

Just returned from a scouting trip to Nashville, Tenn. In Tenn you can get a 3,000+ sq. ft. home for $325,000.00 - $425,000.00 on half an acre or more. (Note this is in the good areas). Your travel to work will run you 20-30 mins in rush hour. Your property taxes will be 2,500 - 3,500 a year. No state income tax. You will however pay a sale tax of 9.25% and food is taxed. Gas is a few cents cheaper. Salaries for professionals (i.e. accountants, lawyers, sales) are equal to NJ but not Manhattan.

If you do not have family in NJ or earn over $200,000.00 no reason to live in NJ. There is a whole country out there people, you just have to look.

8/10/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous dreamtheaterr said...

When I first arrived at this blog a few months back to educate myself on real estate around NJ and life in general, I decided to hold off on buying for 2-3 years and try build a down payment. I see 2 of my work colleagues already regretting their condo purchases in the past year on ARMs.

The last month has almost convinced me to move out of this area to a lower cost place once my wife finishes grad school, and we get our permanent residency in the US (fingers crossed!).

The primary reason I am around here is that I can tolerate a lower standard of living (for now) and save more. I can't imagine getting crushed by PITI around here and dealing with a 4 hr daily commute for years to come.

I love being in NJ/NYC - such a diverse area. But its not worth it if my quality of life is going to decline to what it would be back in my home country! I'll have to chase the American dream in another state.... sad but true.

8/10/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Better than paying rents of $2,000 a month or more than anywhere in the 5 boros in NYC."

First of all, are you talking about 1996 or 2006?????

Let's make some comparisons. You buy a 500k house with a 100k D.P.. It will cost you approx $3,500 per month (PITI, based on a 30 yr. fixed). Your after tax cost would be approx $2,500 per mo.. Remember you deduct int and prop tax from your income not your income tax.

At the same time, I decide to rent a new 2 bdrm apt in B.C. for $1,500 a mo.(Don't tell me I can't, I do).

Your carrying cost after 5 years is approx 150k after taxes. My cost is 90k. This comparison is based on our costs reamining constant. You have maintenance costs, utility cost and increasing taxes. This will certainly outweigh my rental increase.

Just on carrying costs I am ahead 60k after 5 years.

Now after 5 years we both decide to move. Your house drops 20% (being too optomistic, I know). You lost your 100k D.P., plus you incur approx 40k in closing costs, realty comm., and the dreaded RE transfer tax. Now add this to your 150k carrying costs and your total cost is -$290k!!!!!!!!!

In the meantime, I have received 5% annual, compounded interest on my 100k (not used to buy RE). This will be worth approx 130k. My net is 130K-90K in rentals or + $40k.

Based on this simple comparison there is a $330k net difference in renting versus buying in this 5 year period.

Basically it is very simple. If you don't own a house but want to live in one, your choice now is to rent a house or rent money to buy a house. To rent money is to take out a loan. A mortgage is a money-rental agreement. House renters take no risk at all, but money-renting owners take on the huge risk of falling house prices, as well as all the costs of repairs, insurance, property taxes, etc. It is much cheaper to rent the house than to rent the money at this time.

BC Bob

8/10/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger grim said...

From Bloomberg:

N.J. Tax Chief, 5 State Workers Accused in Gifts Case

New Jersey's director of taxation, his chief deputy, and four managers were indicted on charges of accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from a state contractor, including dinners, golf outings, and spa treatments.

Robert K. Thompson, 57, who heads the Division of Taxation, and Deputy Director Harold A. Fox, 58, were named in a 42-count indictment returned today by a state grand jury in Trenton. Two employees at OSI Collection Services Inc., which had a state contract to collect unpaid taxes, also were indicted.

``Instead of declining the lavish gifts offered by this state vendor and reporting them, as clearly required by law and their department's code of ethics, these state officials allegedly welcomed them,'' Attorney General Zulima V. Farber said in a news release.

8/10/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

After 5 months, this seller finally gave up yesterday -- no Greater Fools to be found:

MLS 2259341
93 Meadowbrook Rd, Short Hills

Mar 22, 2006 - $799,000

Apr 06, 2006 - $749,900

May 03, 2006 - $725,000

Jun 03, 2006 - $700,000

Jun 15, 2006 - $699,000

Jun 17, 2006 - $679,000

Jul 14, 2006 - $650,000

Aug 09, 2006 - WITHDRAWN

8/10/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Escape from NJ said...

If you do not have family in NJ or earn over $200,000.00 no reason to live in NJ. There is a whole country out there people, you just have to look.

8/10/2006 07:01:10 PM "

I am in your situation but 1.5 years out from moving out of NJ. A year and a half ago my boyfriend and I left NJ for the greener pastures of North Carolina. Bought a beautiful affordable spacious townhouse in a nice part of Raleigh. Now - a year and a half later, we're looking to move back.

The reason I bring this up is that there are some people who think that the grass is greener on the other side but once you've left (espcially if you're very used to living in NJ and the whole Northeast) you will miss it more than you expect.

We are moving back because after a year and a half here, my boyfriend has not adjusted, and has actually become very homesick. It sounds silly but you'll never realize how hard it is to get a good pizza once you leave the NE. Little things like how you're greeted by people, how people react to situations. And even the realization of how crappy "local new" can really be. It's a different lifestyle here - and from everyone I've talked to who was born and raised in the NJ/NY area who've moved down here, they all say that it took them 5+ years to adjust.

I just wanted to throw that out there to all the people complaining about how bad NJ is - once you leave it you may realize that it's not as bad as you once though.

Returning to NJ

8/10/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

So basically, good pizza is worth $3,000 a month of debt slavery?

I'd say suck it up, you made the big move, that was the hard part. Hopefully you've both found work, join some local clubs to meet new people.

If you're missing your family, that's one thing, but if you're missing pizza, that's another.

You've made a big investment (financially, carreer-wise, and emotionally), so don't be so quick to give up.

Best of luck.

8/10/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Oh, and I'll add this:

NY Greeting: "What are you looking at?"

NJ Greeting: "Got a problem?"

NC Greeting: "Hello!"

8/10/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not looking for $3000/month of any sort of "debt slavery". I was previously living in Central Jersey and will move likely move back to that area. I'm what you would call transient, I've lived in 3 different states since I graduated school in '99. As much as I've moved it's never as easy as "suck it up". There are very nuanced things about "lifestyle" that's different here from NJ, from IL where I grew up, from CT where I lived for 3 years. Everywhere you move is different. Some people truly have a harder time adjusting than others. I have a friend in Boca who's tenant moved out recently because they couldn't handle Florida and it's "lifestyle" and wanted move back to NY.

I'm not saying that it's horrible here, in fact, it's great here. No snow, cheaper real estate (aside from that though, cost of living is comparable to NJ), slower pace of life. But... I just wanted to throw out a different perspective on how it could go "not as well" for someone who has decided on the "go south" route.

No negativity, just a different perspective.

Returning to NJ

8/10/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the long term owning a house in my opinion is always better than renting.

Think of two people one owns and the other rents, after about 30 years one owns outright and the other is still renting. Also when you have a mortgage, say a 30 year fixed like the vast majority of home owners, your payments are fixed, period. When you rent, you are subservient to the landlord who can raise you rent at will. Plus wait until inflation kicks in you renters will get WHACKED!!!

8/10/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Returning to NJ,

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and perspectives. But its how you derive them or reach them is what other bloggers may question.

Here are some of my "perspectives" I noticed in your blog:

1) your age, you graduated in 99, please tell me that was college and not high school.

2)I think I counted a total of 3 places you offense, but you are by no means worldly, so hard to make a good comparison, and CT? might as well be in NJ for those 3 years or whatever.

3)your boyfriend, if he told you to jump off a bridge, would you follow too? Spouse, one thing, but boyfriend.

4)Pizza, need we say more??

But hey, this is your logic in which you make very big and important decisions, and if thats the case, so be it and I wish you the best of luck.

No negativity, just a different perspective.


8/10/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 8/10/2006 11:18:19 PM,

I will tell you now, you are about to be taken to the back of the wood shed with that post from these fellows on this blog.

Might want to stick around, you may or may not learn something.


8/10/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

I just looked at Grim's historical real estate analysis, and the chart shows that someone who bought a house in 1986 for $600K, would be able to sell that house in 1996 for $600K (less interest paid, less transaction costs, and less maintenance).

Buy low, sell high applies to real estate as well.

All this talk of "If you're going to live there a long time, you'll be OK" is absolute nonsense.

Who wants to have $600K not earn anything for a decade?

It DOES matter when you buy, unless you're independently wealthy.

Prices that are a few percent above norm is one thing, prices 100% above norm is quite another.

8/10/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do people think of berkeley heights in terms of schools, open space, attitude of residents, etc? Both of us work in NJ so the NYC commuting issue is an non-issue. Thanks for the feedback!

8/10/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toms River, New Jersey
What jobs are available to sustain Million dollar homes in North Dover ?

Property taxes payments will go up in 2007 after the Township RE-VALUATION !!!

8/11/2006 12:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Returning to NJ was just expressing her opinion on why she left NJ and why she's moving back. I think regardless of any naivety and lack of worldly experience YOU perceive in her, I found her opinion to be informative.

No reason to be dick, just because you think she's apparently too young to have any valid opinions.

8/11/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SAS - thanks for the input :)

I'm not saying that NJ's the only place to be - but saying that some decisions are arrived at through very convoluted courses. This isn't a forum for me to examine our choices which were made over many months - my boyfriend moved down to the South for me because I was sick of NJ. So I think it only fair that I make an effort to go back for him because of the myriad of issues that apply to our situation.

Leaving school in '99 was college. I moved from Taiwan to the Chicago when I was 8. I've travelled extensively through my childhood and for work since leaving school. I don't consider myself worldly but I went through quite a bit of adjustment through the formative years of my life and transition and change is something I've learned to work with. But I don't think everyone's upbringing is the same and some truly have a harder time adjusting to a different place than me. I don't judge that to be good or bad, just different.

Just like our decision to move back, it's not good or bad, just ours.

I think sometimes there are intangible things about the place you live that can't be quantified and so it's hard to know you'll miss until you're gone. BTW, for me it's not the pizza but the complete lack of real Chinese food here ;)

Returning to NJ

8/11/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your payments are fixed, period.

Until your property taxes go up...again.


8/11/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger skep-tic said...

property taxes are going up at a much faster rate than rent

8/11/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Returning to NJ...

I couldn't disagree with you more. I used to think NJ was great and I'd die before I lived in the Confederacy! I spent 18 years of my life in NJ.

I live in VA now and besides proximity to the great cities of NY and Philly, NJ offers nothing of value. I think it would be best to ask your SO to sit down and go over these things rationally.

After a while, I sat down and asked myself "What does NJ have that other states don't?" I still can't come up with a single thing besides what I previously mentioned, proximity. Now that is important for some, mostly those who work in finance, design and related fields... but otherwise, not really so valuable. It's expensive, crowded, horribly planned, lacking of culture or significant history, and lacks any real dynamic growth or development.

I find the people to be less likable than other regions as well. As for the pizza, I've long considered finding a way to get rich off the lack of good pizza in other regions. There are a lot of transplanted NY/NJ folks who miss it.


8/11/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with the pizza today?

Weird. Pizza on the brain. Is it lunch time? All I've had today are the crusts off my little one's PB&J sandwich, and two caramel creams. Pizza sounds awesome.

Primo pizza
Our Munchers set out in search of the state's best slice
"Americans alone consume 350 slices per second "


8/11/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haudidoody said:

"I live in VA now and besides proximity to the great cities of NY and Philly, NJ offers nothing of value. I think it would be best to ask your SO to sit down and go over these things rationally."

So "NJ offers nothing of value" is a *rational* statement? Yes, an objective person can find many things wrong with NJ, but only a moron can say what you just said with a straight face.

Maybe Grim should change this to just a plain old "ANTI NJ" blog, because it seems to only attract NJ haters. Why are you people here if you hate NJ so much and/or don't even live here or want to live here?

8/11/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm goin to Old Forge, PA for my pizza.

Haven't been there in years.

Yea..maybe I WILL go for a ride this weekend. I wonder if they still have the old drive-in up around there.


8/11/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger chicagofinance said...

pesche22 - post under your own name

also, go away

8/11/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yo, bro.

8/11/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all for all you people packing up and moving to dixie. Free up the roads and the schools and take your pure consumerism with you. Money can buy you more square footage but not happiness. You'll find something to complain about whereever you live. That's just your way. Adios, y'all!

8/13/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading the comments here. I returned back to NJ from after my divorce was finalized to take care of my elderly Dad.House cost him $17,000 in 1955. My Dad just died and I see I can't afford to live here in the home I grew up in. My brother says that between taxes, electricity, heat, and other bills, this house will cost #35,000 a year to operate. Selling it will probably realize over $300,000 which I will split with my brother.
I have never owned a house by myself and am wondering what to do with the money I am about to get. I am thinking of living in my car for a year and looking at the US.
I love NYC and this suburban area but hate snow and the taxes are deplorable. I have to move out.
Anything I should know or consider?


8/22/2006 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we need new voices in government. look for a widespread retooloing in the next 20 yrs with NJ politics. You all will someday get pissed off enough at these people.

8/24/2006 04:43:00 PM  

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