There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to address New Jersey’s transportation-funding crisis, put money into the Transportation Trust Fund and get people back to work across the state.
But tying any plan to do so to an outright elimination of the state’s estate tax is financially reckless and endangers the state’s future while delivering big financial rewards to the fortunate few who will no longer have to pay New Jersey taxes on multi-million-dollar estates they inherit.
If lawmakers must address New Jersey’s estate tax, they’d be better off taking a thoughtful approach and making adjustments, rather than taking a hammer to the tax and eliminating it altogether. Raising the threshold to $1 million or even $2 million would help a large chunk of the heirs who currently pay the tax while preserving most of the revenue the state so urgently needs to provide essential services, meet obligations and invest in the future we all want to see.
With the plan announced today, New Jersey’s leaders are once again severely diminishing the state’s ability to invest in more affordable higher education, cleaner air or a stronger safety net for those who have fallen on hard times. At a time when New Jersey can’t even meet its constitutional and moral obligations, let alone make investments critical to our future, our legislative leaders are choosing to dig our financial hole hundreds of millions of dollars deeper.
And they are doing so only to bail out around 4,000 of New Jersey’s wealthiest heirs each year. Eliminating the estate tax will help the largest estates the most, with those inheriting assets of more than $5.34 million who will see an average tax break of $1.3 million – at a cost to New Jersey of over half a billion dollars a year.
Like the plans that came before it, this latest proposal has absolutely nothing to do with tax fairness.