by Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA(DC), CGMA
CEO and Executive Director, New Jersey Society of CPAs
A recent survey of New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) members found that 75 percent of CPAs have advised some clients to relocate their homes or businesses outside of New Jersey to reduce their tax burdens.
That’s an arresting figure. Three out of four accountants seem to agree that when it comes to finding relief from rising business and personal tax obligations, the answer often is “anywhere but here.” Furthermore, as noted in a recent statement we released, a Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Policy survey — conducted in partnership with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association — found that 82 percent of New Jerseyans feel they are overburdened by taxes and not receiving their money’s worth in corresponding services. A similar number of state residents are dissatisfied with how our state leaders are addressing affordability challenges in New Jersey. Thousands of small New Jersey businesses breathed a sigh of relief when the expansion of the millionaire’s tax failed to make its way to the state budget; such a tax would have dealt a damaging blow to sole proprietorships, partnerships and limited-liability companies whose income taxes flow through personal tax returns.
The message could not be clearer. The Garden State’s economy is lagging its neighbors, and action is needed to get us on the path to affordability and competitiveness. State debt is rising, and spending is consistently outpacing revenues. With an increasing portion of the budget being allocated to service the state’s pension and benefit obligations, we’re heading in the direction of future tax increases our residents and employers cannot afford. This is an unfortunate predicament for any community, but especially for a state so endowed with advantages that should make it a natural home and haven for businesses.
My colleagues at Opportunity New Jersey (ONJ) share our members’ concerns about unsustainable taxes. The business community needs a cohesive sounding board in Trenton and a focused approach to implementing policies and legislation that restore our regional competitiveness. ONJ’s recently released Plan for an Affordable New Jersey is a blueprint to get us there.
With its goal of steering New Jersey to a leadership position in job and median wage growth, the Plan calls for a comprehensive reform of our tax structure to restore regional competitiveness and a restructuring of our burdensome corporate and property tax rates. Under this Plan, all proposed executive or legislative bills will be accompanied by a fiscal impact statement that presents, considers and — if necessary — resolves any negative cost impact before policy is enacted.
In tandem with the release of its Plan, ONJ has introduced the New Jersey Economic Advisory and Development Council. The Council aims to meet regularly with the Governor and legislative leaders, or their staffs, and to provide advice and guidance that support the Plan’s bold and necessary actions.
We have a long way to go, but if we’re willing to roll up our sleeves, we can get there. If there’s one thing New Jersey’s residents and business leaders aren’t afraid of, it’s hard work.
To learn more about the Plan for an Affordable New Jersey, and the formation of the New Jersey Economic Development and Advisory Council, please visit www.opportunitynj.org. Make sure to click Join Our Mailing List to stay updated on news and developments.