Realtors’ group poll: Property taxes irk N.J. residents

Posted: April 25, 2012

If you want to rile a New Jersey resident, two words will do it: property taxes.

Most state residents — 89 percent of the 800 registered voters surveyed in early April by the state’s Realtors, according to the poll’s results — maintain that property taxes are too high, but they are less united about proposals to lower them.

“Property taxes continue to be a major concern, even ahead of the economy and jobs,” said Joe Goode, senior vice president of American Strategies, who has been conducting the poll for the New Jersey Association of Realtors for the last five years.

What changed this year is the mood of the voters polled, Goode said.

Forty-seven percent said the state was headed in the right direction, while 42 percent disagreed, he said. In 2009, just 19 percent said the state was on the correct path; in 2010, 31 percent said it was.

Gov. Christie’s proposal to cut the state’s income tax by 10 percent was supported by 63 percent of the voters the Realtors’ group polled this year.

When the voters polled were asked to consider alternative legislative plans that propose income-tax credits of 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, in any given year, the support for Christie’s plan fell. When they were given details of the alternative plans, support for the Christie plan increased.

When asked why housing cost so much in their areas — 49 percent had complained about it — the largest percentage, 28 percent, blamed home sellers and builders trying to make too much profit.

Nearly half those polled said foreclosures remained a huge problem in the state. There was virtually unanimous support, Goode said, for a program that would renovate foreclosed properties into affordable housing.

Fifty-two percent of those polled said they want the state to abolish its real estate transfer tax, and they strongly opposed proposals to allow municipalities to levy their own transfer taxes and impose a sales levy on vacation rentals.

A small majority favored managed-growth policies as a way to combat sprawl, the poll results showed.

Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com or@alheavens at Twitter.

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