Good morning, Chairman Singleton and members of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to share my testimony.
I’m Sheila Reynertson from New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), a nonpartisan think tank focused on providing New Jersey residents with economic security.
NJPP is in support of legislation that would reduce taxes owed by renters as long as those with low-paying jobs are specifically targeted as beneficiaries of the change. Based on S343 as currently drafted, it does not include any language to ensure that the renters most in need of help get it.
We recommend adding two amendments to this legislation. First, the property tax deduction should be converted to a tax credit for renters making less than a certain amount taking into account household size as well. And, more importantly, the credit itself must be refundable so that all renters, regardless of taxes owed, can benefit from this income tax reform.
Finally, a fiscal note from OLS would have been helpful before today’s hearing giving the public a clear picture of the percentage of New Jersey renters by income level who take advantage of the current property tax deduction. This data could have provided key insight into which renters benefit the most and which renters get skipped over by this tax break – data that could be used to strengthen S343.
We respectfully request that the proposed bill be amended to ensure equitable distribution of the tax break among all renters.