Poll: Most New Jersey Residents Are Willing to Pay Higher Taxes for Murphy Proposals

Phil Murphy. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Most New Jerseyeans say they pay too much in taxes but are still willing to pay more to cover the cost of some of Gov. Phil Murphy’s policy proposals, according to a new poll.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Wednesday found that 79 percent of state residents feel they are over taxed, while just 17 percent think they get their money’s worth for the state and local taxes they pay.

However, many respondents said they could stomach a small increase in state taxes to pay for a number of Murphy’s initiatives, such as increased investments in infrastructure and education. And there is widespread support for two of Murphy’s proposed revenue raisers: legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and a tax hike on millionaires.

“It is not surprising that residents are upset about what they pay in taxes, given that New Jersey is one of the highest-taxed states in the country,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “The issue will surely play a big role in Governor Murphy’s budget address next week and presents quite a challenge for the new administration—especially given the seemingly contradictory views of residents, who are upset with their current tax situation, yet are open to small tax increases to fund some much needed projects and programs.”

Three-quarters of residents said they are either “very” or “somewhat” willing to see a small tax hike to pay for transportation and infrastructure investments, according to the poll. At least six in 10 residents are open to modest tax increases for free universal preschool, fully-funded school districts, free community college and a fully-funded public worker pension system.

The poll found that the public reacts differently when asked about specific tax hikes.

Three-quarters of residents said they either “strongly” (60 percent) or “somewhat” (16 percent) support taxing legal weed sales. A smaller majority—53 percent—said they support legalizing recreational marijuana in general.

More than two-thirds favor a tax increase on residents who earn more than $1 million in annual income, though the poll was conducted before the new federal tax law, which is expected to harm high-tax states such as New Jersey because it scales back the state and local tax deduction. Another Murphy proposal—closing a tax loophole that lets corporations shift profits made in New Jersey to lower-taxed states—had 58 percent support.

By contrast, there is little support for expanding the sales tax to include clothing and grocery purchases or reinstituting the recently repealed estate tax, according to the poll

The poll of 1,203 adults was conducted from Nov. 15 to Nov. 27, 2017. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Poll: Most New Jersey Residents Are Willing to Pay Higher Taxes for Murphy Proposals