New Jersey Group Claims Public Supports High-Wealth Tax

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By John Herzfeld

Public opinion in New Jersey supports changes in the state tax system to raise income tax rates for the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers and restore the state estate tax, a liberal advocacy group said.

New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), which specializes in economic issues, released a public opinion poll Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the election of Democratic candidate Phil Murphy to replace eight-year incumbent Gov. Chris Christie (R). Murphy ran on a platform of fixing budget gaps with steps that included increasing tax rates for high-income individuals and closing corporate tax loopholes.

The release of the poll added to the anticipation of whether Murphy’s election would mean higher taxes on the wealthy in New Jersey. Meanwhile, in the neighboring state, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) took the occasion of his re-election to renew his bid for a state millionaire’s tax to support mass transit and a mansion tax on high-value real estate transactions to support housing for the elderly.

The New Jersey policy group said it commissioned the poll to weigh public reaction to tax policy alternatives it supports to provide what it estimated as $2 billion a year in added state revenue.

“Voters are willing to support tax increases—even on themselves—to create a stronger, fairer economy and fix the Garden State’s financial crisis,” Jon Whiten, NJPP vice president, said in a statement.

In the poll results, the group said, 75 percent of New Jersey voters said that they support raising income taxes on the top 5 percent of households, including 76 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans. Support for restoring the state estate tax on heirs inheriting $1 million or more was at 62 percent.

New York Revenue Needs

In New York, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli (D) said Nov. 9 that new funding sources are needed for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pay for urgent transit system repairs without raising fares and tolls sooner than planned, especially in light of expected federal cuts.

DiNapoli noted in a financial outlook that although Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and de Blasio “have both expressed support for new revenue sources for the MTA, they disagree on the approach.” Cuomo has rejected de Blasio’s call for a millionaire’s tax to help fund mass transit.

In post-election comments at a Nov. 8 news conference, de Blasio said he’d continue to seek state approval of the millionaire’s tax and the mansion tax, buoyed by a “mandate” from the voters.

De Blasio, who won re-election by a wide margin, said that “one of the biggest planks I ran on was the millionaire’s tax” and that polling had shown that “it’s tremendously popular.”

“I think my election helps propel it forward, but the No. 1 reason to do it is fairness, and that we need a sustainable source of revenue for the MTA,” he continued. “But I’ll give you another good reason, there’s no other plan on the table. There’s literally no other plan on the table, and the issue has to be addressed.”

To contact the reporter on this story: John Herzfeld in New York at jherzfeld@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cheryl Saenz at csaenz@bna.com

For More Information

The New Jersey poll results are at http://src.bna.com/t8x.

Text of the New York state comptroller’s report is at http://src.bna.com/t8K.

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