Callers to the ANCHOR New Jersey property tax benefits hotline say they can’t get through

Callers to the state’s helpline number for the new ANCHOR Home Savings Benefit say they are unable to get through.

Residents say they tried calling both the information number and the registration number “at all hours of the day and night”, but they were unable to play the recorded messages.

“Due to high call volume, we are unable to take your call at this time,” is the message you receive when you call the state ANCHOR information number at (888) 238-1233.

Calling the program registration number, (877) 658-2972, which residents were asked to call to apply online once they received their mail or email packet regarding the program, is showing results similar.

Callers to this number have the option to file their claim or check the status of their Homestead rebate from the previous year. Then, another option is offered to them if they “have received a notice from the Division or need general information”.

Selecting this option puts callers in a queue for the customer service center, but after hearing several messages – including one suggesting a call to (888) 238-1233 waiting – the calls are disconnected.

The state Treasury Department said the hotline is experiencing “incredibly high call volumes as triple the number of New Jersey residents are now eligible for the program compared to the Homestead Benefit.”

On Monday, the hotline received more than 14,000 calls between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., spokeswoman Danielle Currie said. This compares to the 18,000 calls received during the whole month of August. She said 98.5% of those calls were answered.

Currie said the Tax Division had doubled the number of employees answering the ANCHOR information number as it anticipated high demand, “but call volume remains high and agents are working diligently to respond to the largest possible number of calls”.

“In response to this volume, we are increasing the queue allocation so that more callers are put on hold,” she said. “Call flow is monitored so that anyone in the queue does not wait longer than 30 minutes. If placed in the queue, callers must be prepared to stay on the line for 30 minutes .

She said the number (877) 658-2972 is for callers looking to file by phone. Those who select option 1 to apply will not be redirected. Callers who select option 3 for general inquiries may be redirected to the general “888” information line, she said.

“We encourage residents to check the Tax Division’s ANCHOR website before calling to see if their question is answered there,” she said. “Residents also have the option to apply online at the same link.”

She noted that ANCHOR’s deadline is not until December 30, 2022, not to be confused with the senior freeze deadline of October 31, 2022.

Governor Phil Murphy’s office referred the questions to the Treasury Department.

More and more people are starting to call as residents begin to receive their applications.

Applications began to be sent by email on September 13 and paper applications began to be sent by post on September 19. They will be sent continuously through September 30, the state Treasury Department said. You can view the shipping schedule here.

The online portal to apply for the ANCHOR program — short for New Jersey’s Affordable Communities for Homeowners and Renters — opened last week.

The program replaces the Homestead Rebate and includes both homeowners and renters.

Because there is no age limit, up to 2 million New Jerseyans are expected to qualify. The average payout is expected to be $971, the state previously said.

The program, covering the year 2019, will grant credits of up to $1,500 to taxpayers whose gross income in 2019 is less than or equal to $150,000, and up to $1,000 to those whose gross income between $150,000 and $250,000.

Tenants whose gross income does not exceed $150,000 may be eligible for a benefit of up to $450.

The state asked residents to wait 10 days after their county mail or email date before calling for help. Then they could call the ANCHOR hotline at (888) 238-1233 for assistance.

To apply by phone once the application is received, residents can call (877) 658-2972.

Some people will need to file a paper application. They include people who shared ownership of their primary residence with someone who was not a spouse/civil partner and whose ownership percentage was not pre-printed on their spreadsheet, people whose primary residence is a unit in a multi-unit property, if their shippers have errors and other reasons.

Please sign up now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.

Karin Price Mueller can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @KPMueller.

Penny D. Jackson