Monthly Archives: November 2010

>Middletown Refuses To Take Residents Money; Taxpayers Told Of Looming Tax Sales

>Does anyone have an extra $1500 cash or more lying around the house; if you do can you lend it to a neighbor? According to Middletown resident Dora Crisafulli, she was turned away from the Middletown Tax office yesterday (November 29, 2010) when she showed up to pay her property taxes. As it turned out she wasn’t the only one turned away, others who showed up Monday were also turned away.

Mrs. Crisafulli stated that when she arrived at the Middletown tax office Monday morning, there were several people in front of her, all waiting to pay their tax bills before the end of the month. Each resident was told that their payments were late and that their tax bill should have been paid by November 10th (since payments dates were adjusted a few months back to reflect the new bill payment schedule that require taxes due on the 1st of the month), each were told that only cash or certified cashier checks would be accepted as payment. No personal checks, credit or debit cards would be taken. According to Crisafulli, it seemed that a near riot would ensue as people were being turned away.

One elderly woman left the tax office in near tears when she couldn’t pay half of her tax bill by personal check with the remaining balance placed on a credit card. Others in line became angry and agitated at the situation, no one could understand the reasoning behind the sudden change in payment methods and they questioned who had that kind of money lying around?

When it was Crisafulli’s turn at the window she demanded to speak to the office supervisor (Crisafulli couldn’t remember her name) when she was not allowed to use her debit card to pay her taxes and found out that a late charge of nearly $60 was being added to her bill. She was told by the clerk that the supervisor was currently busy but could speak to her shortly. Mrs. Crisafulli let the clerk know that she expected to talk to the supervisor after she returned from the bank with cash.
Upon her return from the bank, Mrs. Crisafulli asked to speak to the office supervisor before paying her tax bill. When the supervisor came out to speak with Mrs. Crisafulli, she was probably sorry that she had, Crisafulli gave her an earful.

Crisafulli stated to me that she had asked why she and others had to pay by cash or by certified cashier’s check (which would have been subjected to an additional $15 bank service fee) when previous to this date other forms of payment were acceptable? She also questioned why she was charged and added misc. interest charge of $51.54 over the normal late interest fee of $8.04, which she had been paying since the Township change its payment cycle a few months earlier (Crisafulli stated that she was on a fixed income and doesn’t always have money available on the first of the month). Previously to the change, she had never been late with a tax payment and she would have paid her tax bill on Friday but the office was closed the day after Thanksgiving.

The woman that Mrs. Crisafulli spoke to informed her that the reason for the changes to the payment policy, was due to the upcoming Tax Lien sale that was being scheduled for late December (Crisafulli stated 12/28 but more than likely in January).

Anyone late in their tax payments, were being required to pay by either cash or certified check and the additional interest charge was for the purpose of processing the paper work for the upcoming tax sale and to place notices in the area newspapers.

After hearing this Mrs. Crisafulli was shaken and upset, she wanted to know how in the world Middletown could place a lien on her house and put it up for sale without her notice or her being delinquent in her tax payments; she never was and had ever been habitually late paying her taxes. She was mortified that her name would appear in the newspapers and that her neighbors would think that she was a tax cheat.

Only after the supervisor stated that she would check on Mrs. Crisafulli’s status, to see if her house was going to be included in the sale and notices, did Crisafulli make her cash payment and request a receipt.

Two hours later the phone rang in the Crisafulli’s house and the voice at the other end of the phone notified Mrs. Crisafulli that she was safe; her house wasn’t being subjected to the tax sale and no notice would be placed in the local newspapers.

Needless to say she was relieved to hear the news, but what about the others, who have been turned away over these last couple of days, have they been told of the upcoming tax sale and whether or not their homes would be included?

This is disturbing; I can’t imagine that Middletown would be so hard up for tax revenues that it would refuse to take late tax payments from residents unless those payments were made with cash. It is paramount to extortion, either you pay us in cash or we will but a lien on your house and then put it up for sale. How can this be possible, is this just a simple case of misunderstanding or is there something more to it? I have never heard of such a thing happening unless a property owner’s taxes were considered habitually past due. I also don’t understand why residents can’t pay with a credit card, the service fees that the banks charge the township are being passed onto the taxpayers, and the Township no longer absorbs those transaction fees. It just makes no sense.

Someone needs to question this before unknowing residents are hit with tax liens against their properties and find themselves in a court fight to keep their homes or businesses.

I placed a phone call to Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes last night to ask if he had known what was happing at the tax office. He stated that he did not but would contact Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to inquire about it and get back to me.

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Filed under Middletown, property taxes, Sean F. Byrnes, tax liens, tax sale

>NJPP Monday Minute 11/29/10: Christie Family Income Taxes: When 10.25% really means 6.2%

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In New Jersey, opponents of progressive taxation, including Governor Christie, argue that tax rates are too high. Indeed, just a month before he filed his 2009 tax returns, the governor said he intends to lower income tax rates within two years in order to stimulate the economy and make New Jersey more competitive with neighboring states.

But a full understanding of the state’s tax structure shows that New Jersey is already quite competitive. And Governor Christie’s own 2009 New Jersey income tax return shows the truth often isn’t as simple as it seems. Even though their household income pushed them into the top bracket of 10.25%, the Christies actually paid just 6.2% of their family income to the state.

Much can be learned from an income tax return, which is why the average person’s return is generally not available for public scrutiny. Many politicians, however, make their returns public during their time in office to prove they are solid tax-paying citizens – just like the rest of us.

Such is the case with the governor. The governor has made his tax return available for public perusal. The document is quite useful in illustrating how New Jersey’s marginal income tax rates work.

In 2009, the Christie’s New Jersey taxable income was $540,792, including $527,069 in wages from Mrs. Christie’s part-time job at Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street bank and brokerage firm. The governor, who resigned as U.S. Attorney to campaign, did not have a salary.

The Christies paid $33,619 in New Jersey income taxes. To most, that sounds like a substantial sum, but it amounted to 6.2% of their New Jersey taxable income, considerably less than one would expect them to pay given their 10.25% tax bracket.

How does this work? It’s all about the margins.

New Jersey taxes income at different rates as income increases. Many believe this is the more appropriate way to tax income than a flat tax rate on all income, but it can be confusing. Current rates for married couples range from 1.4% on income of less than $20,000 to 8.97% on income of more than $500,000. Married couples who earn less than $20,000 pay no income tax in New Jersey.

In 2009, New Jersey had slightly different brackets as a result of a temporary rate increase enacted by lawmakers. The top marginal income tax rate was 10.75% on income of more than $1 million; 10.25% on income between $500,000 and $1 million; and 8% on income over $400,000 but less than $500,000.

The 6.2% effective income tax the Christies paid to New Jersey is less than they would have paid to New York State if Mrs. Christie’s job were there; less than they would have paid if she had worked in Philadelphia; and about what they would have paid if they had lived in Georgia.

New Jersey, unlike some other states, does not allow for many deductions. As a result, the Christies could not lower their taxable income by the $36,866 in property taxes they paid in 2009 for their nearly 7,000-square-foot house valued at $1.8 million in Mendham.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed legislation that would have maintained the higher income tax rates on the state’s richest residents and tied those increases to the property tax rebate program. But the governor vetoed the bills because he said income tax rates in New Jersey are too high. So, the rates for 2010 reverted back to the 2008 level when the top rate was 8.97% on income over $500,000.

In effect, the governor gave himself a $2,151 tax cut.

Rather than arguing over whether the current 8.97% top marginal rate on the richest people in the state is too high, the discussion we should be having in this state is whether it’s too much to ask the wealthiest families, those like the Christies who claim a net worth of $3.8 million, to pay 6.2% (or 5.8% under current tax rates) of their income to support public services in New Jersey.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, income taxes, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective

>Sunday was a good day!

>Well, I thank God that today is finally coming to an end, it was a very good day indeed. Not only did I get up early and prepare my turkey for roasting (that’s right, I roasted a turkey today. I missed out on Thanksgiving because of my work schedule), took care of the outside of the house and the Giants beat the Jaguars 24 -20 and the Bears beat the Eagles 31-26. I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Here are a few pictures from outside the house with the Christmas Decorations glowing, I still have a few more to put out.




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Filed under Christmas decorations, Eagles, New York Giants, Turkey

>Saturday Morning Cartoons: G-dcast Spins Chanukah!

>Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and Black Friday is just a memory, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday. No, I am not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about Chanukah!

Chanukah starts next week, December 1st – December 9th, so I thought why not start the holiday season off on the the right path and find a little cartoon that explains what Chanukah is all about. It’s not just about presents, menorahs and latkes you know.

G-dcast Spins Chanukah! from G-dcast.com

More Torah cartoons at www.g-dcast.com

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Filed under Black Friday, Chanukah, Christmas, G-dcast, holiday season

>Why No Meeting Minutes Posted Over the Last Several Months?

>Here’s a question that I thought I would throw out there for someone to answer, why haven’t there been any Meeting Minutes of the Middletown Township Committee posted on the Township’s website since the April 5th, 2010 Workshop meeting?

It’s now the end of November and the next Township Workshop meeting isn’t scheduled until December 6th, 7 months after the last posting of meeting minutes and 14 meetings ago. Why the delay in posting the minutes online? I can understand a 2 month delay, the minutes from the previous meetings need to be approved at the following months get together of the Township Committee, then a little time is added for posting of the minutes to the Townships website by the Clerk, but 7 months? I think that is a bit excessive, someone should be jumping on it, to get those minutes posted in the name of transparency soon.
Transparency will be a big issue in Middletown this coming year when the Township Committee reverts back to its previous 5-0 Republican super majority that was the norm for 16 years before Patrick Short was elected in 2006 and Sean Byrnes in 2007.

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Filed under Meeting Minutes, Middletown Township Committee

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 11/25/10: Giving Thanks for Those Who Serve

>The President expresses gratitude to America’s military men and women and their families, and discusses the steps his administration is taking to help create jobs so that next Thanksgiving, Americans can give thanks for a stronger economy.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under economic recovery, military men and women, President Obama, Thanksgiving, weekly address

>Happy Turkey Day !!

>I would like to wish all my family, friends and readers a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. I hope your day is fill with all the joy and remembrances of which only good friends and family can make, Enjoy it!

And just in case you missed it yesterday, here is President Obama pardoning the National turkeys, Apple and Cider, at the Whitehouse yesterday morning.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under family and friends, President Obama, Thanksgiving, Turkey Pardon