Budget deal to bring tax relief ($500 rebate, expanded child care credit) to most Jerseyans

Gov. Phil Murphy proposes his fiscal 2021 budget earlier this year. (File photo)

Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s top legislative leaders announced an agreement Monday on tax relief measures for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget — including a previously announced $500 rebate that more than 760,000 New Jersey households will receive this summer.

The agreement, which is a result of the state’s enormous and unexpected revenue windfall, also agrees to expand earned income, child and dependent care tax breaks.

The agreement was announced by Murphy, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge), Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark).

Key tax relief components of the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget include, but are not limited to:

  • Middle-class tax rebate: In fiscal year 2022, over 760,000 New Jersey families will receive an up to $500 tax rebate due to the millionaire’s tax enacted by Murphy and the Legislature last fall. Families will receive these rebates over the summer. The estimated program cost is $319 million.
  • Updating the Homestead Benefit base year to 2017: The Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Act will update Homestead Benefit payments so that they are based on 2017 property tax information, which is the most recent payment information available, instead of 2006 records. This change is estimated to increase the average benefit for seniors and disabled homeowners by over $130 and the average benefit for lower-income homeowners by $145. The estimated program cost is nearly $80 million.
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit expansion: This budget proposes expanding the CDCC that the governor and Legislature enacted in 2018 so that it is both available for families making up to $150,000 and refundable. This change will benefit over 80,000 more families and increase the average credit for those making under $30,000 to $277. The estimated cost is $17 million.
  • Extending the Veterans Property Tax Deduction to peacetime veterans: The Appropriations Act will support the expanded deduction approved through the 2020 ballot measure. The estimated foregone revenue cost is $15 million.
  • Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit age of eligibility of 21 to 18 and to those over age 65: The governor and the Legislature have provided meaningful middle-class tax relief by boosting the EITC from 35% to 40% since 2018. Last year, the governor led on expanding eligibility to an additional 60,000 New Jersey residents by lowering the minimum age from 25 to 21. In fiscal year 2022, Murphy and the Legislature will expand eligibility to those 65 and older without dependents and to those as young as 18, which is projected to help another 90,000 residents — roughly 70,000 over 65; and 20,000 between the ages of 18 and 21. The estimated foregone revenue cost is $13 million.

Murphy said the agreement will provide much-needed help.

“Tax relief is a critical component of a stronger and fairer New Jersey,” Murphy said. “With each budget I have introduced, we have provided greater relief to those who need it most — through our continued expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the establishment and expansion of a Child and Dependent Tax Care Credit, increased tax relief for veterans, middle-class tax rebates, and now the long-overdue expansion of the Homestead Benefit to make sure relief reflects reality.”

Sweeney called it direct tax relief to middle-income families and senior citizens who need it most.

“The income tax rebate will put money into the pockets of working families so they can support themselves and their children,” he said. “The increased Homestead rebates will help ease the heavy property tax burden on middle-income homeowners. This extra assistance is especially important for senior citizens on fixed incomes so they can continue to live in their home communities. These benefits will be spent in the local economy, generating jobs and business activity in communities across the state.”

Coughlin agreed.

“With these measures, we’re building on the promise to make New Jersey more affordable and stand up for its working families and seniors,” he said. “I am thankful for the governor and Senate president’s partnership in ensuring the responsible expansion and strengthening of our state’s commitments toward middle-class tax relief. Through the promise of greater financial security, together these measures will generate more opportunities for residents and our economy to thrive.”