On Trenton's legislative calendar, amid vying tax cut plans, is a smart bill that would curtail a decades-old property tax scam.
It requires landowners to make at least $1,000 a year from their farmland to get a whopping 98 percent property tax break. The theory is that real farmland produces real income, and raising the threshold from $500 a year to $1,000 a year would weed out what cosponsor Sen. Jen Beck (R., Monmouth) calls "fake farmers." The bill would return 47,377 acres of farmland to the tax rolls, generating about $2 million.
The tax exemption was created in 1964 to protect the Garden State's shrinking farm acres, and it is still a good policy. Farmland brings in income, and it also serves as a sponge in a state with so many impervious surfaces that most rainstorms quickly turn into flood watches.