New Jersey property taxes are regularly found atop lists of the highest in the United States. Residents of one township, however, now can trim their real estate tax bills simply by shopping at local merchants.
Marlboro, N.J., property owners who have Shop Marlboro cards can cut their tax burden a bit every time they swipe the plastic at one of the city's participating merchants.
The card is not a debit or credit card. Rather, it's a reward card that's been issued at no charge to cardholders thanks to the local Investors Bank. It's administered by Fincredit. So far, around 1,700 cards have been issued and around 40 Marlboro merchants are participating.
Each time a cardholder swipes the plastic, a credit toward the cardholder's annual property tax bill is registered. There's no set credit percentage. Each participating merchant establishes its own level of credit.
The card's website offers this example of how it works:
"The price of your dinner for four people at a restaurant that is participating in the Shop Marlboro program with a 20 percent program rebate is $200. When paying the bill (either cash or credit card), just present your Shop Marlboro card, which is then swiped. Thereafter, $40 (less third-party program management and processing fees) will be applied as a credit against your annual property tax bill. Annually, when the Township issues its next property tax bill, the cumulative transactions will show up as a tax credit, thereby reducing your tax due."
Theoretically, says the Shop Marlboro website, cardholders could spend enough over the year to completely pay off their property taxes.
Shop Marlboro is a brainchild of Mayor Jonathan Hornick, who says that to his to knowledge it's the first-of-its-kind tax reduction program in the country. The beauty of the program, says Hornick, is that local businesses and property owners all benefit.
I'm not a big fan of credit card rewards programs. I find them to be too much hassle for too little reward.
But I do love my Starbucks card, which gives me a free Frappuccino on my birthday, as well as after I buy a dozen drinks. So I'd probably find a way to use a property tax rewards card if my local tax collector ever set up a similar deal here.
Would you choose to shop at one place over another if it would help reduce your property tax bill?
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