State tax deadline moved to July 15 — why CPA leader feels small businesses benefit most

File photo Ralph Thomas, the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ executive director and CEO.

Ralph Thomas, the head of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, said the decision to push back the state’s tax filing deadline to July 15 will help the businesses that need it most: small businesses.

Both the businesses themselves — and the small business accounting firms that handle them — were really starting to feel the pressure of what Thomas called an unrealistic April 15 deadline.

“There were going to be some major issues,” Thomas told ROI-NJ. “Remember, the vast majority of our members are small businesses themselves. This was going to be a challenge.”

The extension was announced jointly Wednesday morning by Gov. Phil Murphy, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge). The group also announced the end of the state fiscal year would be Sept. 30.

Thomas said firms need all the extra time they can get. Many, he said, are doing double duty: Trying to meet the late rush to file while trying to help their clients navigate all of the new economic offerings that the state and the federal government have introduced. And they were doing all of it without face-to-face contact — and, for some, an inability to work out of their office.

“With the stimulus package and New Jersey EDA putting forth some things — there’s a lot to take on if the deadlines weren’t extended,” he said. “We’re still trying to navigate this and get interpretation of items, because things are happening so quickly.

“Our members needed more time in order to advise and connect with their clients. This extension is really helpful. They can take a big sigh of relief and can be more focused.”

Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin said the state can use the extra time, too.

“As part of the whole-of-government effort that is going into fighting COVID-19, we have agreed that the state fiscal year should be extended to Sept. 30,” they said in a statement. “This will allow the administration and the Legislature to focus fully on leading New Jersey out of this crisis, and to allow for a robust, comprehensive and well-informed budget process later in the year.

“We are committed to working together to enact the necessary legislation and supplemental appropriations to accomplish these goals.”

Thomas said the state’s leaders need to remember to keep small businesses top of mind.

“Small businesses have been a critical issue for us at the society,” he said. “There are between 350,000 and 360,000 small business in the state. We need to make sure we are providing packages and resources to these businesses, so that those that are shut down can get back going.

“Small businesses are the engine that’s going to fuel the comeback of New Jersey. I would stress to (Murphy) that we really need to focus on small businesses and getting them back up and running.”

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