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New Jersey is joining a growing list of jurisdictions that are willing to consider incremental taxes on the very wealthy. Last month, when we provided an update on the so-called millionaire’s tax in Massachusetts, we described the effort there that a coalition of five of the state’s most high-profile business groups had mobilized to stop the Fair Share Amendment from hitting the ballot in 2018. In August, we discussed similar movements in New York City and Washington.

On Oct. 4, 2017, the coalition fighting Massachusetts’ tax filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state attorney general’s 2015 certification of the proposed Fair Share Amendment. Since then, the court issued its case schedule calling for the plaintiffs’ brief to be filed by Dec. 11, 2017. The defendants’ brief is due by Jan.y 12, 2018, and any reply brief by Jan. 26, 2018. Oral arguments are currently scheduled for Feb. 5, 2018.

New Jersey may be joining the party. This month, New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), a “think-and-do tank” focused on economic justice and prosperity, released the results of a poll it commissioned seeking to understand Garden State voters’ attitudes about three tax reform ideas: a millionaire’s tax, the estate tax, and the sales tax rate. The pollster, Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, interviewed 750 “likely 2017 New Jersey voters” between Sept. 27, 2017 and Oct. 3, 2017.

The poll revealed that “[t]here is strong, bipartisan support for raising income taxes on the wealthiest 5 percent[,] and for restoring the estate tax for millionaires.” In addition, “there is majority support for rolling back the recent reduction in the state sales tax, which 60 percent of voters say has not helped them at all.” (On July 15, 2006, the sales tax increased from 6 percent to 7 percent. On Jan. 1, 2017, the rate was rolled back to 6.875 percent.)

NJPP asserts that the taxes that reforms in these three areas would generate represent “over $2 billion in new revenue that New Jersey desperately needs to meet its obligations, maintain essential services and make targeted investments that can boost opportunity and grow the state’s economy.”

Supporting its claim that “most New Jerseyans want bold solutions on state taxes,” NJPP looked to the survey finding that 75 percent of those polled support the idea of "increasing taxes - mostly on the wealthy and large corporations - to generate $2.5 billion in more revenue for the state.”

More specifically:

CATEGORY

SUPPORT

OPPOSE

Raising taxes on the wealthiest 5 percent of households

75%

22%

Restoring the estate tax on those with estates worth more than $1 million

62%

31%

Rolling back the recent reduction in the sales tax

53%

34%


Other findings include these:

  • 69 percent of those polled believe that the state’s wealthiest 5 percent of households are paying “too little” in taxes, and 66 percent believe the same about large corporations.
  • Of the 75 percent of supporters of the millionaire’s tax, 76 percent were independents and 57 percent were Republicans.
  • Of the 62 percent who support restoring the state estate tax on heirs inheriting $1 million or more, 57 percent were independents and 52 percent were Republicans.
  • 54 percent of Republicans support rolling back the recent sales tax reduction.

The election that took place a few weeks ago put a new governor, Phil Murphy, a democrat, in office, who supports the tax increase as one way to fund the state’s schools. New Jersey’s Senate President Stephen Sweeney, also a democrat, has thus “elevated the "millionaire's tax" to a top legislative priority,” reported NorthJersey.com.

Another factor underpinning Senator Sweeney’s support is the possibility of a federal repeal of the deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes. Citing the Government Finance Officers’ Association, NorthJersey.com pointed out that “New Jersey has among the highest percentage of taxpayers in the country who claim the deduction, with an average deduction of more than $7,000 per household.”

Back in April, NJSpotlight described a Quinnipiac University Poll that returned results similar to those of NJPP’s poll: a “[m]ajority of New Jerseyans back tax hike on the rich — if revenue is used for education and public pensions.” Although a survey of certified public accountants suggested that it would “chase[] wealthy residents and small-business owners out of New Jersey to other states with lower tax rates,” we debunked that myth earlier this year, in the context of increasing gas taxes to support infrastructure improvements.
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