TRENTON – Mark May 4 on your calendars.
That’s the day when New Jerseyans can feel debt free when it comes to paying taxes to their federal state and local governments.
From the beginning of the year to May 4, all of one’s income essentially went to support government at all levels, according to Americans For Prosperity (AFP).
In New Jersey, it seems more and more days are needed to pay the tax burden, according to AFP. The national average is April 18. That means on the average, residents in other states had two more weeks for themselves, an enhanced quality of life, AFP claims.
“We have lost time,” said AFP Executive Director Steve Lonegan. “Time is our freedom.”
New Jersey is the third worst state in the amount of time residents need to work to be relieved of their tax obligations, right behind New York and Connecticut.
The states with the most tax freedom are in the Deep South, Mississippi and Louisiana, AFP states.
New Jersey, Lonegan said, should serve as “a model for what other states should not do.” He said the state’s tax system was relatively level up until the 1960s. That’s when state government decided to put in place more taxes, he said.
A 3 percent sales tax was put in place in 1965 and the income tax was added in the mid-1970s. Those taxes, among others, were added in the name of relieving the state’s property taxes. But they have had little positive impact, according to Lonegan.
“State spending skyrockets after taxes (are put in place),” he said. As a result, he said, “We watch our quality of life diminish.”
He cited an Allied Van Lines study, saying that five people leave the Garden State for every three who move in.
“Eliminate taxes, give us our freedom,” he said.
Much of the problem stems from the state’s graduated income tax structure, which economist Elizabeth Malm of the Center of State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation said “punishes” high-income earners.
New Jersey residents have an average income of $53,869, higher than the $41,146 national average. As a result, residents pay a higher share too, at 12.4 percent of their income taxed, versus the 9.9 percent national average.
The analysis by the economists was based on information compiled from government reports, such as Census data and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In general, the group called for flattening income tax rates to foster job creation, particularly for high income earners, and the corporate business taxes.