FOX: SPRINGTEEN & BON JOVI ARE FARMERS?

A report on Fox5 Wednesday tees up local rock stars Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Max Weinberg for “the huge tax breaks” they get for claiming parts of their estates in Colts Neck and Middletown as farmland.

According to Fox reporter Barbara Nevins Taylor, Bon Jovi’s Navesink River estate in Middletown, on which he pays $296,000 a year in local property taxes, is cited for paying just $104 on 6.85 acres used to raise honeybees.

Springsteen pays more than $138,000 a year in taxes on his three-acre Colts Neck home, but just $4,639 on the adjoining 200 acres, which is organically farmed and has horses, according to the report.

E Street Band drummer Weinberg pays $49,000 on his two-acre residence on McClees Road in Middletown, but just just $122 on the additional 34 acres “because he sells wood,” says Nevins Taylor.

A lawyer for the trust that owns Springsteen’s spread had no comment, Nevins Taylor reports. Bon Jovi, through a spokesman, said the beekeeping operation was in place on his before he bought it.

State Senator Jennifer Beck of Red Bank appears in the segment, calling the state law that requires owners of properties as small as five acres to sell just $500 worth of agricultural products in order to qualify for the exemption “a very low bar.

“I think it is unfair to our other property taxpayers that if you are a fake farmer, and that you don’t legitimately farm, that you are getting a property tax break and forcing your neighbors to pick up your tab,” Beck says. “That was not the intent of the law. It’s a violation of the public trust.”

Beck has taken on the tax break before, most notably in her 2007 campaign for state Senate, when she challenged her opponent, Ellen Karcher, for benefitting from it.

Also interviewed is Middletown Administrator Tony Mercantante, who suggests the law, while it “has enabled farmers to survive,” needs fine-tuning.

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