GSI REPORT: TOWARD A FISCALLY SUSTAINABLE NEW JERSEY: ANALYSIS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Link: https://www.gardenstateinitiative.org/updates/sustainability

Full report: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5956385fe4fcb5606a4d46ac/t/613f51e3dae757528286a93a/1631539687957/GS-1438_Fiscally_Sustainable_Final_01.pdf

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NJ’s revenue is being produced by higher rates on a smaller tax base: New Jersey needs to ensure that the outmigration of high-income residents does not continue. Between 2008 and 2017, New Jersey experienced growth in the number of tax filers of 4.2%; however, growth in those making $500,000 or more annually was only 2.5% during the same time.

NJ’s public spending is growing faster than inflation, our population or job creation:  Our state will continue to see specific needs increase, especially in public health, health insurance, and public safety. New Jersey already taxes residents and businesses more than most other states. The problem is not too little revenue; rather, it is that the state’s spending is growing at a faster pace than inflation and the state’s population

The cost of NJ’s public workforce retirement and healthcare is the key driver of escalating spending and taxes: What New Jersey owes employees and retirees is growing significantly faster than the underlying economy that must support this liability. This is not sustainable. Pension liabilities are growing faster than assets

Author(s): Thad Calabrese, Thomas Healey

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Garden State Initiative

Tax Me, I’m From New Jersey

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/regressive-tax-new-jersey-salt-cap-reconciliation-2017-cuts-and-jobs-act-aoc-biden-11632167030

Excerpt:

I am no billionaire. But like Mr. Buffett, I am willing to take one for the team. So as Democrats in Congress come under pressure to roll back the $10,000 cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes, or SALT, this long-suffering resident of New Jersey offers his own Buffett-like message:

Don’t do it. Make me and people like me — those who choose to live in high-tax states — pay our full, fair share of federal taxes.

Such an approach accords well with what Mr. Biden has been saying about taxes and the wealthy. In his most recent remarks about his Build Back Better plan, the president said he’s “tired” of the rich not paying their “fair share.” And he attacked the 2017 tax cuts passed under Donald Trump as a “giant giveaway to the largest corporations and the top 1%.”

But that’s exactly who would benefit most from any expansion of the SALT deduction. According to the Tax Policy Center, 57% of the benefits of eliminating the cap on the SALT deduction would go to the top 1% of filers. The same researchers likewise reckon that the top 1% would get an average tax cut of more than $35,000 — against just $37 for middle-class taxpayers.

Author(s): William McGurn

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

SALT Cap Confounds House Democrats Crafting Taxes for Biden Plan

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-09/salt-cap-confounds-house-democrats-crafting-taxes-for-biden-plan?sref=H58UC22s

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House Democrats continue to search for a way to satisfy lawmakers who want to scrap the deduction limit on state and local taxes without losing progressives wary of a tax cut that would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.

The budget blueprint Democrats passed this summer instructs lawmakers to include some form of SALT cap relief in a tax-and-spend plan of up to $3.5 trillion.

A full repeal would be costly and politically difficult to pass with razor-thin margins in both chambers. But a coalition of lawmakers from New York, New Jersey, and other states with high tax rates continue to insist that is what it will take for them to back the legislation.

…..

Suozzi is one of the leaders of the “SALT Caucus”, an alliance of more than 30 lawmakers who want to roll back the $10,000 deduction limit established in the Republican-led 2017 tax law. While they argue that the cap unfairly targets Democrat-dominated states and encourages people to move to Florida and other low-tax states, progressives counter that expanding the deduction shouldn’t be a priority in a social spending bill because the lion’s share of the benefit would go to the wealthy.

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That [2019] bill passed the House, but 16 Democrats voted against it, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has described a full repeal as a “gift to billionaires.” Democratic leadership is dealing with a much narrower majority this Congress and can’t afford to lose that many votes with no Republicans expected to support the reconciliation package.

Author(s): Kaustuv Basu

Publication Date: 9 September 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg

DiNapoli: Local Sales Taxes Jump 49.2 Percent in Second Quarter

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/07/dinapoli-local-sales-taxes-jump-49-point-2-percent-second-quarter

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Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

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The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million. Every region outside of New York City experienced two-year growth over 18%. The Mid-Hudson and North Country regions both reported increases of more than 29%.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 23 July 2021

Publication Site: NY State Comptroller

Looming fiscal cliff could reignite CT’s tax fairness debate

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Even though the state’s coffers, for now, are awash in money, a huge fiscal cliff looms two years from now, when billions of dollars in federal stimulus grants expire.

Despite a record-setting rainy day fund and a new biennial state budget free of major tax hikes, unprecedented unemployment and deep pockets of urban poverty could easily shift Connecticut’s tax fairness debate — which accelerated this past spring — into high gear in 2024.

“We came out of a year from hell, and I think it was really important we came together in terms of our budget,” Gov. Ned Lamont said last Thursday, one day after lawmakers had adjourned a session that adopted a $46.4 billion, two-year state budget that makes big investments in municipal aid, education, health care, social services and economic development — all without major tax hikes.

But about 4% of that plan, nearly $1.8 billion, was propped up by one-time federal coronavirus relief, most of which will have expired after the coming biennium, which starts July 1.

Author(s): Keith Phaneuf

Publication Date: 16 June 2021

Publication Site: CT Mirror

New CT budget has an unprecedented built-in surplus of $2.3 billion

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Question: When was the last time a Connecticut legislature was poised to adopt a state budget with a $2.3 billion surplus built into it?

Answer: Never, until now.

Democrats and Republicans alike were expected to vote for the $46.4 billion, two-year package when it goes before the House of Representatives on Tuesday. But even though about 5% of the funds appears to be left unspent, the anticipated surplus would become a payment into the state’s pension accounts.

That’s because the budget, which boosts spending 2.6% in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and by 3.9% in 2022-23, really is the first of its kind under a new system designed to bring stability to state finances.

Connecticut is four years into a savings program that limits spending of income tax receipts tied to capital gains and other investment earnings, but this is the first time since 2017 that analysts are projecting big revenues from Wall Street before legislators actually approve a budget.

Author(s): Keith Phaneuf

Publication Date: 8 June 2021

Publication Site: CT Mirror

The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich

Link: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-heroic-congressional-fight-to

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However, the SALT cap didn’t so much go after “Democrats” as “affluent Democrats.” It only applied to people who itemize their taxes, which meant the 90% of Americans who take the standard deduction were unaffected. The deduction raised over $70 billion in just the first year, and roughly 56% of that money came just from the top 1% of taxpayers, living in a few states in particular.

The tax nastygram seemed directed at Trump’s hometown delegation. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in April of 2017 complained about the cost of protecting “Trump and his family here in NYC”; the SALT cap affected 19% of Maloney’s constituents in Brooklyn and on the Upper East Side, and taxpayers in that 19% each lost an average of $100,405 in breaks. Chuck Schumer, one of Trump’s fiercest critics, personally took over $58,000 in SALT deductions just in 2016.

Overall, 39 of the 40 districts most affected by the SALT cap were represented by Democrats. Of those, 28 came from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Also affected: Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district, where residents lost an average of $53,471 of write-offs. Trump’s campaign promises to take on “elites” proved phony, except when he was able to effect this targeted partisan strike at the people he knew and hated the most: rich, socially liberal Democrats, especially ones from the tri-state area.

Author(s): Matt Taibbi

Publication Date: 23 April 2021

Publication Site: TK News at substack

Pressure Intensifies On Biden To Restore A Tax Break Weakened By Trump

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfarmer/2021/04/21/pressure-intensifies-on-biden-to-restore-a-tax-break-weakened-by-trump/

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Mayors in blue states are lining up with Democrats in Congress to pressure the White House into restoring a tax break that was significantly reduced by former President Trump’s tax reform.

On Wednesday, Rep. Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.) joined officials from Albany; Columbia, S.C.; Philadelphia and San Diego to call for a repeal of the rule that limits state and local tax (SALT) deductions. They are calling for President Biden’s $3 trillion infrastructure proposal to include the repeal.

“No SALT, no deal,” Suozzi said on a conference call hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Author(s): Liz Farmer

Publication Date: 21 April 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

The SALT Subsidy

Link: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-salt-subsidy/

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“Taxed twice on the same income”: This is an argument sometimes brought out in favor of the state and local tax deduction, or SALT. But it doesn’t really hold water.

It’s not problematic for different taxes, funding different services, to use the same denominator. County and municipal governments often tax the same property, for instance, and local and state governments often impose sales taxes on the same transactions. In these cases, requiring one tax to be deducted before the other was calculated would just be silly, because legislators would simply increase the second tax’s rate enough to offset the loss, leaving everything back where it started.

With SALT, though, there’s no simple solution like that — federal tax rates apply across the entire nation, while state and local taxes vary from place to place. A federal deduction subsidizes places with high taxes by collecting less federal revenue from those places, while any overall rate increase will hit the whole country. Blue-state lawmakers like Nadler like SALT, and want to get rid of the cap on it, because they want that subsidy, not because it’s fair tax policy.

Author(s): Robert Verbruggen

Publication Date: 15 April 2021

Publication Site: National Review

NY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/548046-ny-house-democrats-demand-repeal-of-salt-cap

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House Democrats from New York on Tuesday escalated their push for the repeal of the cap on the state and local tax deduction, threatening to oppose future tax legislation that doesn’t fully undo the $10,000 limit.

“As members of the New York Congressional Delegation, we urge you to insist on full repeal of the limitation on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction passed by Congress in 2017 and signed into law by former President Trump,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “This issue is so critical to our state and our constituents that we will reserve the right to oppose any tax legislation that does not include a full repeal of the SALT limitation.”

Every Democrat in New York’s House delegation signed the letter except Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kathleen Rice.

Author(s): Naomi Jagoda

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

How States Can Gird for the Coming Fights Over Taxing Digital Ads

Link: https://www.governing.com/finance/How-States-Can-Gird-for-the-Coming-Fights-Over-Taxing-Digital-Ads.html

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Maryland’s Legislature recently overrode a gubernatorial veto and enacted a new tax on digital advertising — the first of its kind among the states. It was inevitable that somebody would break the ice. Last August, I explored the revenue implications for states and localities of a federal tax on interstate digital commerce. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated business migration to Internet platforms, making this the new frontier for tax policy.

Maryland legislators deserve credit for planting their semi-checkered state flag first, to stake their claim, but they are still far from the finish line. Anti-tax wonks point to a host of possible legal snags that could tie up the Maryland tax for some time. They complain that it’s unduly vague, imprecisely crafted, and invites double taxation. The social media goliaths are already protesting that it’s unconstitutional under the commerce clause, which gives Congress supreme authority to regulate interstate business. To salvage its tax, Maryland may find it necessary to make defensible amendments that can withstand judicial scrutiny. But rather than going it alone, the state could use some help from its peers eyeing digital ad taxes of their own.

States have been called the laboratories of democracy, and rightfully so. However, when it comes to national and international commercial activity that sweeps across state lines through complex multi-party transactions, let’s face it: Heterogeneity and administrative complexity are not desirable outcomes. Fifty separate labs tinkering with different tax formulas will drive companies nuts.

Author(s): Girard Miller

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publication Site: Governing

New York’s wealthiest look for exits as state readies hefty tax increase

Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/08/new-yorks-wealthiest-look-for-exits-as-state-readies-hefty-tax-increase-.html

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New York’s top business leaders are gearing up for a potential mass exodus as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers prepare to raise their taxes.

With the state budget set to increase the personal income tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers as well as hiking corporate taxes, some executives who fled the city for Florida temporarily due to coronavirus pandemic lockdowns are considering permanent relocation, according to business leaders briefed on the matter.

Wealthy business leaders who have historically resisted moving at least some of their resources to Florida or other less-taxed states explained to CNBC that they are now seriously reconsidering as working from home becomes the norm, allowing more flexibility.

Author(s): Brian Schwartz

Publication Date: 8 April 2021

Publication Site: CNBC