Where progressives see needed tax rebates, business group leaders see unnecessary tax hikes

Take from the rich and give to the poor works well in movies and progressive circles. It does not play well with business organizations. To them, it’s another example of how the job creators are getting hit again.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement Thursday that the state will lower the millionaire’s tax to anyone making $1 million or more, instead of $5 million — and that the revenue gained from the move will essentially pay for a $500 rebate check for middle-class families with at least one dependent — did not sit well with the heads of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce or the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

Tom Bracken, the head of the chamber, is perplexed by the fact that Murphy got his long-desired millionaire’s tax — but that he’s not going to use it to help fill budget gaps.

“Instead of using a proposed tax to fill a revenue gap, the governor announced that the tax would fund a maximum $500 per family tax rebate, which essentially spends this new revenue and does nothing to alleviate the revenue gap in the budget,” he said.

Bracken wonders how long the state’s businesses can be expected to pick up the tab.

“Gov. Murphy and Lt. Gov. (Sheila) Oliver both said this morning that they want to help middle- and working-class families who are struggling: What about New Jersey’s business owners and entrepreneurs who are struggling?” he said.

“Sooner or later, this administration needs to realize that the business community is not a bottomless ATM machine. Our businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and their employees on payroll. They need help, too.”

Michele Siekerka, the head of the NJBIA, said the new tax and rebate announcement does not line up with previous statements.

“This tax increase in exchange for suggested middle class relief is a gimmick that further verifies what we have said all along — increased taxes were always completely unnecessary as part of the fiscal year 2021 budget that already includes billions in bonding,” she said.

“We note that the relief tied to this tax increase is undermined by other non-budget hikes for tolls and gas and other proposed taxes in the budget. Our taxpayers need real tax reform that includes property tax relief, while this does not really improve our overall affordability crisis or remove us from the edge of our fiscal cliff.

“It does not get to the root causes of our lost $24 billion in net adjusted gross income over a 12-year span. It incentivizes those who can live anywhere and work remotely, to leave New Jersey.”

Brandon McKoy of New Jersey Policy Perspective. (NJPP)

On the other hand, Brandon McKoy, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, applauded the announcement.

“New Jersey’s tax code just got a lot fairer with the budget deal announced by Gov. Murphy and legislative leadership,” he said. “Calling on the state’s wealthiest residents to help fund New Jersey’s pandemic recovery is both smart and just policy, especially now during an economic downturn that has disproportionately harmed low-paid workers and communities of color.

“While many states across the country are balancing their budgets with steep spending cuts, New Jersey’s legislative leaders made the right choice in rejecting austerity measures like those made in response to the Great Recession. This deal recognizes the importance of maintaining state investments that grow our economy and protect families harmed during the pandemic.”

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