Republicans, progressive groups say Murphy’s tax rebate is election year gimmick
More than $200 million property tax rebates will be paid out to thousands of New Jersey families this summer.
Gov. Phil Murphy says that it is relief for the middle class thanks to his higher taxes on millionaires.
But Republicans are accusing Democrats of using the $500 checks as an election year gimmick. And even some progressives say the rebates won’t help those who are most in need.
“Our housing here in New Jersey is very expensive, so it’s important for our millionaires tax to contribute to property tax relief,” says Sheila Reynerston with New Jersey Policy Perspective.
To be eligible for the payout, families must have at least one dependent child, make less than $75,000 per year if single or $150,000 per year for a couple
“You put money in people’s pockets and obviously it influences their vote. And you know that’s happening this year,” says Republican state Sen. Kip Bateman.
Bateman has a unique point of view. In 1977, his father Ray Bateman was the Republican nominee against incumbent Gov. Brendan Byrne – the year Byrne sent out property tax rebate checks right before the election.
"The day before the election, they sent out the form telling people what they were going to get the following year. And when my dad saw that, when he opened up the mail the day before the election, he knew he had lost the election,” Bateman says.
Progressive groups like New Jersey Policy Perspective are upset the checks are only to going those who make enough per year to pay state income tax.
"It's really too bad that those who don't file taxes are being left behind. We're talking about people who make too little to owe any taxes, they are not getting any of this tax credit,” says Reynerston.
Instead, the group would have preferred the governor and legislative leaders get behind a yearly, state level child tax credit.
"This is not a targeted tax credit. It leaves out those with little to no income, and there are better ways to change the tax code for those who need it the most,” she says.
Gov. Byrne was the most recent Democratic governor to win a second term. Murphy is looking to replicate that success in November.