Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25) countered arguments from left-wing advocacy group New Jersey Policy Perspective in committee Monday, calling their arguments distorted after a representative from the group contradicted the Republican caucus’ consistent claim that wealthy residents are filing out of the state because of its estate tax. Governor Chris Christie emphasized the cuts in his budget address last month, citing “tax fairness.”
Countering NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson after she said those claims are based in “anecdotes and faulty data,” Bucco pointed to farmers and small business owners affected by the tax’s current threshold of $675,000 in assets. Reynertson said that the group’s data shows population remaining stable over the last ten years and the state economy growing.
“I think you’re missing a whole segment of the population when you say this will only impact the wealthy. I respectfully disagree,” said Bucco after chair Gary Schaer (D-36) instructed the two not to talk over each other.
“We’ve heard testimony here from families that have had farms in their families for years, and when the owner passed away they had to sell the farm because the estate couldn’t pay the estate taxes,” Bucco continued. “We’ve heard from small mom-and-pop businesses that suffer the same consequences as a result of the estate tax. You’re not trying to suggest that those situations are the wealthy of New Jersey?
“If you have a small business, you can very easily get to $675,000 in assets.”
“We’re growing as a wealthy state,” Reynertson said in her response to the committee. “We’ve always been a wealthy state, consistently.
“As long as we’ve had the estate and the inheritance tax, we have continued to be in the top five richest states in the country.
“Now is not the time to strip up to $400 million from the budget in the hopes that this tax cut will magically pay for itself,” Reynertson said in her testimony. “Despite claims to the contrary, there is no working formula or examples from other states that support the idea that a generous tax cut for a handful of New Jersey’s wealthiest families is a guaranteed economic stimulus.”