Cleaned-up version of CBT barely passes Assembly, Senate

A cleaned-up bill for the four-year corporate business tax hike that passed as part of the budget package in July barely passed the Assembly and Senate sessions Thursday.

The bill passed the Assembly by three votes, 41-38. It passed in the Senate, 21-16.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said concerns still remain around the impact of the bill and any potential unintentional consequences.

“It’s clear that the business community has been deeply concerned about the CBT tax, the combined reporting requirement and the ongoing confusion that has been set forth by the Governor’s Office on this Legislature,” he said.

“The business community needs to be at the table … my understanding has been they have not been. At least drafting should be done with the business community so all the ramifications are known when the bill comes to the floor.”

Bramnick acknowledged few Republicans would ever go for a tax hike either way, but to have the discussion was important.

Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey President Anthony Russo previously told ROI-NJ that, while the bill is concerning, the business community isn’t fighting against it altogether — it is just asking to have a seat at the table and help avoid unintended consequences that could hurt the already poorly-ranked business tax climate in the state.

Earlier this week, leaders in the business community expressed other concerns about the latest CBT bill.

Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Bridgewater) said the various versions of the bill are proof of its potential problems. He reminded the Legislature of a real example in the initial draft of the bill, by which the language would have accidentally netted the state $7 billion from New Jersey’s corporations.

“This bill has been through quite a few iterations in our rush to increase spending,” DiMaio said. “This bill has changed more times than a baby’s diaper in a nursery.”

The bill was pulled off the voting board once before the Senate finally passed it at the end of the session.

Sens. Tom Kean (R-Westfield) and Steve Oroho (R-Sparta) voiced their opposition to it, among others.

After the bill’s passage, a number of business groups issued a joint statement, which read in part:

“Today’s action goes beyond technical corrections to the Corporation Business Tax bill passed in July, and places a significant additional financial burden on New Jersey’s largest job creators. This strikes at the heart of our regional and global competitiveness, particularly for the state’s innovation sector.

“These increased costs fall on the very same job creators who are also shouldered with a CBT surcharge, which gives New Jersey the second-highest CBT rate in the country, and soon to be the highest. These increased costs will stifle innovation at the exact time that our state goal is to reclaim our stature as the Innovation State.”

The statement was signed by:

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