Gottheimer and Bracken Take Stand Against Anticompetitive Tax Hike Bill

Nov 21, 2017
Press

Will Push Businesses and Jobs Out of N.J.

Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken took a stand against the Tax Hike Bill making its way through Congress. Both Congressman Gottheimer and Chamber President Bracken have been outspoken against the bill.

“The thing we cannot afford right now is to become less affordable, to become less competitive, and to continue to give people the incentive to leave the state or not be attracted to the state. The Tax Reform Act does that,” said New Jersey Chamber President Tom Bracken. “Tax Reform should be something that every state benefits from. We do not.”

Bracken continued, “Congressman Josh Gottheimer has been very, very pro-New Jersey. Being against this Tax Reform Act, that’s about as pro-New Jersey as you’re going to get right now. So all I can say is that we have a very dangerous situation we have to avoid. Our Congressman Josh Gottheimer is leading that charge.”

Said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), “We’re here today to set the record straight about the Tax Hike legislation that is currently moving through Congress. To draw a line in the Jersey sand and tell Congress we won’t stand for a Tax Hike Bill that will jack up our tax rates, eliminate key state and local and home ownership deductions, destroy our property values, and likely send people, jobs and businesses fleeing from our state. This Tax Hike Bill is not pro-business and it’s certainly not pro-New Jersey.”

“I’m ready to support real, meaningful tax cut for New Jersey. I will not support a tax hike that will force people and businesses out of our state.”

Video of the event can be found HERE.

Below (Left to Right): NJ Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), and President of the Paramus Regional Chamber of Commerce Fred Rohdieck.

Below: Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) takes a stand against the House Tax Hike Bill alongside New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken.

Below: Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

We’re here today to set the record straight about the Tax Hike legislation that is currently moving through Congress. To draw a line in the Jersey sand and tell Congress we won’t stand for a Tax Hike Bill that will jack up our tax rates, eliminate key state and local and home ownership deductions, destroy our property values, and likely send people, jobs and businesses fleeing from our state. This Tax Hike Bill is not pro-business and it’s certainly not pro-New Jersey.

You may have heard some politicians claim that this tax hike plan gives sorely-needed relief to middle-class taxpayers. You may have even seen ads on TV, bought and paid for by lobbyists, telling you that this proposal is good for Main Street – that it will supercharge the economy and create thousands of jobs.

Don’t be fooled. The Tax Hike Bill the House of Representatives passed last week would further dismantle New Jersey’s Main Streets, hurting our business owners and workers — risking, not creating, jobs and wealth. And the bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee? Even worse. Just ask my Republican and Democratic colleagues from New Jersey in the House. Everyone one of them – but one – voted against this bill. Just ask my friend and our state’s leading business representative Tom Bracken, who said of this Tax Hike Bill, “If this legislation is approved, people and businesses will have another reason to leave New Jersey … This proposal is exactly what we do not need at this time.” I couldn’t agree more.

Now, I came to Congress to fight for tax cuts for New Jersey, so I’ve been looking for a plan that actually cuts taxes for people and businesses, of all sizes, here in New Jersey. And I’m ready to support one that actually does that. After all, our small business owners don’t get sufficiently rewarded for the risks they take and the jobs they create. Critically, New Jersey needs to have tax rates that allow us to compete successfully with other states for jobs and for people. And we need a corporate tax cuts to keep us competitive globally, so companies don’t move their headquarters and their jobs to other countries. At 35 percent, right now, we have the highest corporate tax rate among all OECD countries, and the fourth highest tax rate in the world. The global average is 22.96. We’re simply not competitive.

So, I’m all for tax cuts – tax cuts that our state. And, believe me, we crunched the numbers with this Tax Hike Bill. We’ve sat with teams of CPAs and tax experts doing the math for New Jersey. I mean, I want to get to yes – and I’ll continue working with both parties to get there. There are provisions in this legislation that work, like lower the corporate tax rates. But when you look at this Tax Hike Bill in totality, the legislation approved by Congress and racing through the Senate sticks it to New Jersey and will make us less competitive. It’s a boon to other states that already suck up our tax dollars and gives them even more at the expense of our residents, our businesses, and New Jersey’s future.

Here’s why:

First, let’s start with what directly affects you, this Tax Hike Bill doesn’t actually provide relief to businesses!

Many pass-thru entities, which 90% of small businesses are organized as, are left out. This House Tax Hike Bill helps only to the extent your income is extremely high, and then only provides that reduced rate to 30% of your net business income. The rest is taxed at the full individual rate. And, as you’ve heard, the full individual rates remains 39.6%. On top of that, there are a whole new set of regulations yet to be written about what is counted as pass-through income and what has to be taxed at personal rates.

If your business is providing personal services – like accountants, lawyers, architects, and consultants – the bill provides no pass-through relief — at all.

Forbes magazine reviewed the impact of these loss rules on small business and asked: “Why is the Republican Congress turning its back on small business job creators now?”

Second, the bill is going to hike taxes on New Jersey residents and families, and hurt our economy by taking money out of our pockets.

Democrats and Republicans alike agree that this Tax Hike Bill will raise taxes on New Jersey families and businesses. According to the Institute for Tax and Economic Policy, New Jersey will see a $140 million per year tax increase due to this tax hike legislation. Both the House and Senate tax hike bills eliminate the state and local income tax deduction – or SALT — and the Senate bill eliminates the deduction for any property taxes. The House Tax Hike Bill only allows for a $10,000 deduction for property taxes. That might be fine if you live in Oklahoma, where the average property tax bill is [$1,420], on average; in Oradell, however, it’s [X]. The State and Local Tax Deduction has been around since 1913 to help avoid double taxation; this Tax Hike Bill eliminates SALT.

We ran some tax returns to see how all the theory comes out in practice. Consider a family of four right here in Paramus. The mother is a teacher, and the father is a police officer. Each year, this family makes it a point to donate to their local church. Under this tax plan, they’re going to see their tax bill go up $4,900. And five years after that, it jumps to $5,500. Imagine how much of a hardship it would be on this family to have to come up with an extra $5,500 every year. According to the Record today, in a Bergen County community like Saddle River, the average total state and local tax deductions came to $80,567. The ability to deduct that will literally go away.

There are lots more examples – but you get the point. How are we going to convince a company, an executive, or an employee to move here, or stay here, after they do the math? As it is, it’s way too expensive to live and work here. This just makes it that much more expensive. And it’s not like there isn’t competition. CEOs are telling me all the time that they are getting courted by other, less expensive states with lower business and personal taxes and less expensive homes.

By using the elimination of SALT as the key way to pay for this Tax Hike legislation, Congress decided to dump the entire bill for it at our doorstep. While we are already sending all federal tax dollars to these other states, taxes will go up significantly moreas a result, while some states like Mississippi and Oklahoma, where the economy looks nothing like ours, and the average home is $142,000, will sit there smiling.

Third, this Tax Hike Bill will crush New Jersey’s real estate market.

This legislation slashes homeowner’s ability to deduct their mortgage payments by fifty percent, capping the deduction at $500,000 and eliminating the ability to deduct a second.

These changes are going to devastate the value of home ownership in New Jersey. Experts estimate that just these mortgage interest changes will cause home values to decrease by more than 10 percent across the board. For a homeowner that put 10 percent down, this means that all of their hard-earned down payment would be gone. Equity and retirement nest eggs, mass real estate de-valuation, defaults, banks and their loans underwater, freezing up of lending, and recession. Sound familiar?

Real estate related business is 1/6th of our economy. From the construction business to home furnishings, from realtors to roofers to mortgage brokers, as seen saw in ’08, declining real estate market ripples thru our economy. And it’s a real disaster for our state – further pushing people and businesses away in favor of other states. As Tom said, it will greatly accelerate the out-migration that’s already occurring at an alarming rate.

Fourth, this Tax Hike Bill eliminates is a common kind of financing used to fund hospitals and colleges.

Non-profits like Valley and Hackensack hospitals are able to borrow money using private activity bonds. These bonds are similar to municipal bonds – people who own the bonds don’t have to pay taxes on the interest. They have become a critical financing tool for these projects. One hospital CEO told me that without the bonds, the cost of one of her project would be $8 to $12 million higher. Those costs are going to be borne by patients and businesses who buy health insurance, an, of course, hospitals are big customers and the biggest employers in the Fifth District.

Fifth, the Tax Hike Bill hurts New Jersey differently than most other states, which, as I’ve discussed, means people and businesses will leave.

By targeting the state and local tax deductions, the tax committees decided to declare war on New Jersey and the northeast.

They know that their states – I like to call them “Moocher States” – take far more from the federal government than they send in, while New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District gets only 33 cents in benefits for every $1 we contribute in taxable income. Mississippi gets $4.38 for every dollar. Moochers. There are plenty of tax loopholes – we call them tax expenditures – they could have closed. But they chose the state and local income tax deduction knowing – no, not just knowing – because it would hurt us.

It’s why the day of the vote last week, a southern congressman looked at me with a big grin and exclaimed, “Today is the day we get to stick it to the northeast!”

While taxpayers in New Jersey and three other states will pay $16.7 billion more under the bill, 46 states will receive a $101.5 billion tax cut. This isn’t a case of sour grapes: it means that it will be even cheaper to live and operate in business in Florida or Texas, relative to New Jersey, then it is now.

We all know people who have already moved out of New Jersey to save taxes. One CPA told me he was advising his daughter, who already lives in Texas, not to come home because of the tax bill. We’ve already lost major employers like Hertz and Mercedes, and others are teetering on the edge.

Young people are leaving our state just as their careers are beginning. We experience the worst outmigration and brain drain in the country – just two people come to our state for every three who leave.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association estimates that New Jersey has lost $21 billion in adjusted gross income since 2004 just from people leaving the state. That’s 87,000 jobs, $13 billion in lost economic activity, and $4.6 billion in lost labor income.

We can brag about our great schools, our educated workforce, and our safe communities, and bagels, to get people to stay. It’s true, they’re second to none. But, at the end of the day, if the taxes are much higher here than in other states, businesses will take jobs elsewhere, and families will choose other places to live.

But this outmigration doesn’t mean that New Jersey doesn’t have bills to pay. Boy do we have bills. One recent estimate said that each man, woman and child in New Jersey owes $27,300 just for our liabilities. We have bonds to pay, and roads fix. Every time someone leaves, especially a high earner or a business, it just raises the tax bills for the rest of us.

Finally, this Tax Hike Bill is fiscally irresponsible.

It’s budgeted to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars over 10 years. As you know, that will equate to higher taxes and interest rates for borrowing for businesses and home owners down the road.

That’s not all – the bills are loaded with gimmicks. Don’t take my word for it – believe it or not the head of the White House’s office of management and budget said, and I quote, “A lot of this is a gimmick.” End quote. To fit within the budget limit of a $1.5 trillion deficit increase, the bills have many provisions that are delayed or expire. For example, the Tax Hike Bill provides that a $600 per person tax credit expires in only five years, and the Senate bill provides that all the individual benefits under the bill expire in 2026. So, they really expect taxes to go up further in a few years and the deficit to grow much, much more.

Congress is simply spending money it will have to collect later. The highly respected and non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimated yesterday that the bill would add $1.3 trillion to the deficit — even taking into account economic growth generated, and it will add 5.3 percentage points to the ratio of debt to GDP. And that’s just in the first ten years. Over the next ten years, it is expected to be $1.5 trillion more – even taking into effect possible growth. If interest rates go higher – those numbers will be far worse. We all know where that will lead – tax increases down the line and higher interest rates for everyone as the government issues more debt.

Last night, a CEO told me that these changes would kill New Jersey. Our taxes will skyrocket. Businesses and employers will flee; talent will flee; the housing market will collapse; and our economy will be crushed – all to the benefit of Moocher States. That’s why, along with my New Jersey Democrat and Republican colleagues, I’ll keep fighting this Tax Hike Bill. I’ll also keep working, in the weeks ahead, across the aisle, to fix it, so that I can vote for a bill that actually cuts taxes for New Jersey businesses and individuals. We’re desperately overdue.

In closing, I’m going to read you an actual letter I received yesterday: “I have been a lifelong supporter of the Republican Party and also supported Donald Trump during the 2016 elections. However, I have been doing research on tax reform and wanted you to know if passed the SALT passing already in the House … it would force me to consider moving out of the state and sell my home which my family loves.”

We need bipartisan tax reform that lowers taxes at every level: top to bottom. We need a simpler and more competitive tax code. And we need to make sure that tax reform fosters economic growth and creates jobs – in New Jersey.

Thank you.

Below: Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

We’re here today to set the record straight about the Tax Hike legislation that is currently moving through Congress.  To draw a line in the Jersey sand and tell Congress we won’t stand for a Tax Hike Bill that will jack up our tax rates, eliminate key state and local and home ownership deductions, destroy our property values, and likely send people, jobs and businesses fleeing from our state. This Tax Hike Bill is not pro-business and it’s certainly not pro-New Jersey.

You may have heard some politicians claim that this tax hike plan gives sorely-needed relief to middle-class taxpayers. You may have even seen ads on TV, bought and paid for by lobbyists, telling you that this proposal is good for Main Street – that it will supercharge the economy and create thousands of jobs.

Don’t be fooled. The Tax Hike Bill the House of Representatives passed last week would further dismantle New Jersey’s Main Streets, hurting our business owners and workers — risking, not creating, jobs and wealth. And the bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee? Even worse. Just ask my Republican and Democratic colleagues from New Jersey in the House. Everyone one of them – but one – voted against this bill.  Just ask my friend and our state’s leading business representative Tom Bracken, who said of this Tax Hike Bill, “If this legislation is approved, people and businesses will have another reason to leave New Jersey … This proposal is exactly what we do not need at this time.” I couldn’t agree more.

Now, I came to Congress to fight for tax cuts for New Jersey, so I’ve been looking for a plan that actually cuts taxes for people and businesses, of all sizes, here in New Jersey. And I’m ready to support one that actually does that.  After all, our small business owners don’t get sufficiently rewarded for the risks they take and the jobs they create.  Critically, New Jersey needs to have tax rates that allow us to compete successfully with other states for jobs and for people.  And we need a corporate tax cuts to keep us competitive globally, so companies don’t move their headquarters and their jobs to other countries.   At 35 percent, right now, we have the highest corporate tax rate among all OECD countries, and the fourth highest tax rate in the world.   The global average is 22.96. We’re simply not competitive. 

So, I’m all for tax cuts – tax cuts that our state.  And, believe me, we crunched the numbers with this Tax Hike Bill. We’ve sat with teams of CPAs and tax experts doing the math for New Jersey. I mean, I want to get to yes – and I’ll continue working with both parties to get there. There are provisions in this legislation that work, like lower the corporate tax rates.  But when you look at this Tax Hike Bill in totality, the legislation approved by Congress and racing through the Senate sticks it to New Jersey and will make us less competitive. It’s a boon to other states that already suck up our tax dollars and gives them even more at the expense of our residents, our businesses, and New Jersey’s future. 

Here’s why:

First, let’s start with what directly affects you, this Tax Hike Bill doesn’t actually provide relief to businesses!

Many pass-thru entities, which 90% of small businesses are organized as, are left out. This House Tax Hike Bill helps only to the extent your income is extremely high, and then only provides that reduced rate to 30% of your net business income.  The rest is taxed at the full individual rate.  And, as you’ve heard, the full individual rates remains 39.6%.    On top of that, there are a whole new set of regulations yet to be written about what is counted as pass-through income and what has to be taxed at personal rates.

If your business is providing personal services – like accountants, lawyers, architects, and consultants – the bill provides no pass-through relief — at all.

Forbes magazine reviewed the impact of these loss rules on small business and asked: “Why is the Republican Congress turning its back on small business job creators now?”

Second, the bill is going to hike taxes on New Jersey residents and families, and hurt our economy by taking money out of our pockets.

Democrats and Republicans alike agree that this Tax Hike Bill will raise taxes on New Jersey families and businesses.   According to the Institute for Tax and Economic Policy, New Jersey will see a $140 million per year tax increase due to this tax hike legislation.   Both the House and Senate tax hike bills eliminate the state and local income tax deduction – or SALT — and the Senate bill eliminates the deduction for any property taxes.  The House Tax Hike Bill only allows for a $10,000 deduction for property taxes. That might be fine if you live in Oklahoma, where the average property tax bill is [$1,420], on average; in Oradell, however, it’s [X].  The State and Local Tax Deduction has been around since 1913 to help avoid double taxation; this Tax Hike Bill eliminates SALT.

We ran some tax returns to see how all the theory comes out in practice.  Consider a family of four right here in Paramus. The mother is a teacher, and the father is a police officer. Each year, this family makes it a point to donate to their local church. Under this tax plan, they’re going to see their tax bill go up $4,900. And five years after that, it jumps to $5,500. Imagine how much of a hardship it would be on this family to have to come up with an extra $5,500 every year. According to the Record today, in a Bergen County community like Saddle River, the average total state and local tax deductions came to $80,567. The ability to deduct that will literally go away.

There are lots more examples – but you get the point.  How are we going to convince a company, an executive, or an employee to move here, or stay here, after they do the math? As it is, it’s way too expensive to live and work here. This just makes it that much more expensive. And it’s not like there isn’t competition. CEOs are telling me all the time that they are getting courted by other, less expensive states with lower business and personal taxes and less expensive homes.

By using the elimination of SALT as the key way to pay for this Tax Hike legislation, Congress decided to dump the entire bill for it at our doorstep. While we are already sending all federal tax dollars to these other states,  taxes will go up significantly moreas a result, while some states like Mississippi and Oklahoma, where the economy looks nothing like ours, and the average home is $142,000, will sit there smiling.

Third, this Tax Hike Bill will crush New Jersey’s real estate market.

This legislation slashes homeowner’s ability to deduct their mortgage payments by fifty percent, capping the deduction at $500,000 and eliminating the ability to deduct a second.

These changes are going to devastate the value of home ownership in New Jersey.  Experts estimate that just these mortgage interest changes will cause home values to decrease by more than 10 percent across the board.  For a homeowner that put 10 percent down, this means that all of their hard-earned down payment would be gone.  Equity and retirement nest eggs, mass real estate de-valuation, defaults, banks and their loans underwater, freezing up of lending, and recession. Sound familiar?

Real estate related business is 1/6th of our economy.  From the construction business to home furnishings, from realtors to roofers to mortgage brokers, as seen saw in ’08, declining real estate market ripples thru our economy. And it’s a real disaster for our state – further pushing people and businesses away in favor of other states.  As Tom said, it will greatly accelerate the out-migration that’s already occurring at an alarming rate.

Fourth, this Tax Hike Bill eliminates is a common kind of financing used to fund hospitals and colleges.   

Non-profits like Valley and Hackensack hospitals are able to borrow money using private activity bonds.   These bonds are similar to municipal bonds – people who own the bonds don’t have to pay taxes on the interest.  They have become a critical financing tool for these projects.  One hospital CEO told me that without the bonds, the cost of one of her project would be $8 to $12 million higher.  Those costs are going to be borne by patients and businesses who buy health insurance, an,  of course, hospitals are big customers and the biggest employers in the Fifth District.

Fifth, the Tax Hike Bill hurts New Jersey differently than most other states, which, as I’ve discussed, means people and businesses will leave.

By targeting the state and local tax deductions, the tax committees decided to declare war on New Jersey and the northeast. 

They know that their states – I like to call them “Moocher States” – take far more from the federal government than they send in, while New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District gets only 33 cents in benefits for every $1 we contribute in taxable income.  Mississippi gets $4.38 for every dollar.  Moochers.  There are plenty of tax loopholes – we call them tax expenditures – they could have closed.  But they chose the state and local income tax deduction knowing – no, not just knowing – because it would hurt us.

It’s why the day of the vote last week, a southern congressman looked at me with a big grin and exclaimed, “Today is the day we get to stick it to the northeast!”

While taxpayers in New Jersey and three other states will pay $16.7 billion more under the bill, 46 states will receive a $101.5 billion tax cut. This isn’t a case of sour grapes: it means that it will be even cheaper to live and operate in business in Florida or Texas, relative to New Jersey, then it is now.

We all know people who have already moved out of New Jersey to save taxes.   One CPA told me he was advising his daughter, who already lives in Texas, not to come home because of the tax bill.   We’ve already lost major employers like Hertz and Mercedes, and others are teetering on the edge.

Young people are leaving our state just as their careers are beginning. We experience the worst outmigration and brain drain in the country – just two people come to our state for every three who leave. 

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association estimates that New Jersey has lost $21 billion in adjusted gross income since 2004 just from people leaving the state. That’s 87,000 jobs, $13 billion in lost economic activity, and $4.6 billion in lost labor income.

We can brag about our great schools, our educated workforce, and our safe communities, and bagels, to get people to stay. It’s true, they’re second to none. But, at the end of the day, if the taxes are much higher here than in other states, businesses will take jobs elsewhere, and families will choose other places to live.

But this outmigration doesn’t mean that New Jersey doesn’t have bills to pay.  Boy do we have bills.  One recent estimate said that each man, woman and child in New Jersey owes $27,300 just for our liabilities.   We have bonds to pay, and roads fix.   Every time someone leaves, especially a high earner or a business, it just raises the tax bills for the rest of us. 

Finally, this Tax Hike Bill is fiscally irresponsible.   

It’s budgeted to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars over 10 years. As you know, that will equate to higher taxes and interest rates for borrowing for businesses and home owners down the road.  

That’s not all – the bills are loaded with gimmicks.  Don’t take my word for it – believe it or not the head of the White House’s office of management and budget said, and I quote, “A lot of this is a gimmick.” End quote.   To fit within the budget limit of a $1.5 trillion deficit increase, the bills have many provisions that are delayed or expire.  For example, the Tax Hike Bill provides that a $600 per person tax credit expires in only five years, and the Senate bill provides that all the individual benefits under the bill expire in 2026. So, they really expect taxes to go up further in a few years and the deficit to grow much, much more.

Congress is simply spending money it will have to collect later.   The highly respected and non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimated yesterday that the bill would add $1.3 trillion to the deficit — even taking into account economic growth generated, and it will add 5.3 percentage points to the ratio of debt to GDP.  And that’s just in the first ten years.  Over the next ten years, it is expected to be $1.5 trillion more – even taking into effect possible growth.  If interest rates go higher – those numbers will be far worse. We all know where that will lead –  tax increases down the line and higher interest rates for everyone as the government issues more debt.

Last night, a CEO told me that these changes would kill New Jersey.  Our taxes will skyrocket.  Businesses and employers will flee; talent will flee; the housing market will collapse; and our economy will be crushed – all to the benefit of Moocher States. That’s why, along with my New Jersey Democrat and Republican colleagues, I’ll keep fighting this Tax Hike Bill.  I’ll also keep working, in the weeks ahead, across the aisle, to fix it, so that I can vote for a bill that actually cuts taxes for New Jersey businesses and individuals. We’re desperately overdue.

In closing, I’m going to read you an actual letter I received yesterday: “I have been a lifelong supporter of the Republican Party and also supported Donald Trump during the 2016 elections. However, I have been doing research on tax reform and wanted you to know if passed the SALT passing already in the House …  it would force me to consider moving out of the state and sell my home which my family loves.”

We need bipartisan tax reform that lowers taxes at every level: top to bottom. We need a simpler and more competitive tax code. And we need to make sure that tax reform fosters economic growth and creates jobs – in New Jersey.

Thank you.

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