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Tax Exempt Land Issues: Introduction and Background
October 5, 2005

Tax Exempt Land Resources Link



Introduction

The State of New Jersey permits land which meets certain criteria to be free of real estate taxes on the land. Land which falls into the 'tax free' category includes: U. S. Government owned land; State owned land; land owned by tax exempt churches, schools or other quasi-government entities; and land owned by non-profit groups which meet strict state guidelines for the exemption process for the land and the organization.

Land which meets the criteria for exemption under the Garden State Preservation Trust Act also has associated with it payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOT funds, to the municipalities in which the land is located.

The documents on this web site with the general heading of "Tax Exempt Land Issues" relate to land owned by the State of New Jersey and by non-profit organizations that meet the requirements for PILOT funding under the exemption process.

Future articles will address certain specifics of the Garden State Preservation Trust Act which deal with a sliding scale of PILOT funds based upon total exempt land within a municipality.

Other issues to be covered will be the sunset clause of the GSPTA; the particulars of the sliding scale; plans to amend the law for greater payment; and methods municipalities can use to combat the exemption process. The most attractive measure available is the doctrine of eminent domain which will be covered at length.

Background

Why would anyone bother to compile and write about tax exempt land?

The short answer: I consider it extremely unfair for the 1600 residents of the Downe Township--in which I live--to carry the burden of such a high amount of exempt property.

The long answer: Downe Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey which, as of October, 2005, has over 66% of the total land area exempt of paying taxes. This percentage of tax exempt land makes Downe Township the municipality with the third highest amount of land in the whole State. Not only is the amount getting higher every year the percentage of exempt land in Downe significantly exceeds the highest amount provided for in the applicable law.

It bothers me greatly that so little is being done about the situation...other than talk.

References for background

http://www.gsenet.org/library/11gsn/2005/gs050726.php << Use the FIND command which is under EDIT on your browser by entering Downe to read the article which applies.

http://sierraactivist.org/article.php?sid=56786

http://www.miumu.com/boards/index.php?mforum=NJPinelands&s=0da3ea6d6482b5f98218799d7773a7a2&showtopic=1187&st=0&#entry5162  The above reference has a few reproductions of pertinent newspaper articles.

Source of the Information

The material presented in these pages was sent to me as Excel spreadsheets by Robert Stokes of the Green Acres PILOT program of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The original material can be downloaded from the resources link.

All calculations regarding totals, ratios and percentages are my work. Mea culpa.

The Statistics on Tax Exempt Land in New Jersey

A Summary of Tax Exempt Land for the state and for Cumberland County follows. To make comparisons simpler I have rounded total acres up to the nearest acre.

State of New Jersey Statistics

Total number of municipalities: 566 

Number of municipalities having tax exempt PILOT land: 274

Total acres (Total acres in New Jersey): 4,802,200 acres 

Number of exempt acres state owned: 674,303 acres

Number of exempt acres non-profit owned: 124,858

Total Acres Tax Exempt in PILOT program: 799,161 

Percent of total acres in the state which are tax exempt: 16.64%

Cumberland County Statistics  

In Cumberland County, there are only three municipalities which do not have any tax exempt land. Those are Bridgeton, Shiloh and Upper Deerfield.

Maurice River has the largest amount of total land in the county with 59,861 acres. Chart I

Maurice River also has the largest amount of State-owned with 26,628 acres. Chart II

Downe Township has the largest amount of non-profit owned land with 7,848 acres Chart III.

Maurice River has the largest amount of total land tax exempt in the county with 30,382. Chart IV.

Downe Township has the largest percentage of tax exempt land in the county with 66.39%. This number is the third highest percentage of land in the entire state.

Chart I: Data displayed in Total Acres order

Municipality Total Acres State Owned Non-Profit Total Tax Exempt % Tax Exempt
MAURICE RIVER TWP 59,861 26,628.03 3,754.07 30,382.10 50.75%
VINELAND CITY 44,157 3,598.54 473.78 4,072.32 9.22%
DOWNE TWP 34,049 14,756.19 7,848.60 22,604.79 66.39%
MILLVILLE CITY 28,169 5,600.65 1,040.70 6,641.35 23.58%
FAIRFIELD TWP 27,057 6,272.89 2,733.52 9,006.41 33.29%
LAWRENCE TWP 24,012 8,073.12 2,135.82 10,208.94 42.52%
COMMERCIAL TWP 20,864 5,703.20 510.18 6,213.38 29.78%
UPPER DEERFIELD 19,953 0.00   0.00 0.00%
HOPEWELL TWP 19,399 500.96 23.66 524.62 2.70%
STOW CREEK TWP 12,023 1,671.83   1,671.83 13.91%
GREENWICH TWP 11,561 22.80   22.80 0.20%
DEERFIELD TWP 10,859 76.86   76.86 0.71%
BRIDGETON CITY 4,053 0.00   0.00 0.00%
SHILOH BORO 759 0.00   0.00 0.00%

Chart II: Data displayed by State-owned exempt land order

Municipality Total Acres State Owned Non-Profit Total Tax Exempt % Tax Exempt
MAURICE RIVER TWP 59,861 26,628.03 3,754.07 30,382.10 50.75%
DOWNE TWP 34,049 14,756.19 7,848.60 22,604.79 66.39%
LAWRENCE TWP 24,012 8,073.12 2,135.82 10,208.94 42.52%
FAIRFIELD TWP 27,057 6,272.89 2,733.52 9,006.41 33.29%
COMMERCIAL TWP 20,864 5,703.20 510.18 6,213.38 29.78%
MILLVILLE CITY 28,169 5,600.65 1,040.70 6,641.35 23.58%
VINELAND CITY 44,157 3,598.54 473.78 4,072.32 9.22%
STOW CREEK TWP 12,023 1,671.83   1,671.83 13.91%
HOPEWELL TWP 19,399 500.96 23.66 524.62 2.70%
DEERFIELD TWP 10,859 76.86   76.86 0.71%
GREENWICH TWP 11,561 22.80   22.80 0.20%
UPPER DEERFIELD 19,953 0.00   0.00 0.00%
BRIDGETON CITY 4,053 0.00   0.00 0.00%
SHILOH BORO 759 0.00   0.00 0.00%

Chart III: Data displayed by non-profit exempt land order

Municipality Total Acres State Owned Non-Profit Total Tax Exempt % Tax Exempt
DOWNE TWP 34,049 14,756.19 7,848.60 22,604.79 66.39%
MAURICE RIVER TWP 59,861 26,628.03 3,754.07 30,382.10 50.75%
FAIRFIELD TWP 27,057 6,272.89 2,733.52 9,006.41 33.29%
LAWRENCE TWP 24,012 8,073.12 2,135.82 10,208.94 42.52%
MILLVILLE CITY 28,169 5,600.65 1,040.70 6,641.35 23.58%
COMMERCIAL TWP 20,864 5,703.20 510.18 6,213.38 29.78%
VINELAND CITY 44,157 3,598.54 473.78 4,072.32 9.22%
HOPEWELL TWP 19,399 500.96 23.66 524.62 2.70%
STOW CREEK TWP 12,023 1,671.83   1,671.83 13.91%
DEERFIELD TWP 10,859 76.86   76.86 0.71%
GREENWICH TWP 11,561 22.80   22.80 0.20%
UPPER DEERFIELD 19,953 0.00   0.00 0.00%
BRIDGETON CITY 4,053 0.00   0.00 0.00%
SHILOH BORO 759 0.00   0.00 0.00%

Chart IV: Data displayed by total exempt land order

Municipality Total Acres State Owned Non-Profit Total Tax Exempt % Tax Exempt
MAURICE RIVER TWP 59,861 26,628.03 3,754.07 30,382.10 50.75%
DOWNE TWP 34,049 14,756.19 7,848.60 22,604.79 66.39%
LAWRENCE TWP 24,012 8,073.12 2,135.82 10,208.94 42.52%
FAIRFIELD TWP 27,057 6,272.89 2,733.52 9,006.41 33.29%
MILLVILLE CITY 28,169 5,600.65 1,040.70 6,641.35 23.58%
COMMERCIAL TWP 20,864 5,703.20 510.18 6,213.38 29.78%
VINELAND CITY 44,157 3,598.54 473.78 4,072.32 9.22%
STOW CREEK TWP 12,023 1,671.83   1,671.83 13.91%
HOPEWELL TWP 19,399 500.96 23.66 524.62 2.70%
DEERFIELD TWP 10,859 76.86   76.86 0.71%
GREENWICH TWP 11,561 22.80   22.80 0.20%
UPPER DEERFIELD 19,953 0.00   0.00 0.00%
BRIDGETON CITY 4,053 0.00   0.00 0.00%
SHILOH BORO 759 0.00   0.00 0.00%

Within the next day or two I will be presenting data on the State-wide tax exempt issues.

Please visit soon!



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