RELEASE: Gottheimer Takes Action to Lower Taxes for North Jersey Families & Small Business

Clawing Back More Federal Tax Dollars to Towns & First Responders Helps Lower the Property Tax Burden on North Jersey Residents

Apr 18, 2022
Press

Above: Gottheimer outside a local Jackson Hewitt Tax Service branch in Maywood.

MAYWOOD, NJ — As residents file taxes today, April 18, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) laid out action he is taking to help lower taxes and claw federal tax dollars back to North Jersey towns, counties, and first responders — helping lower the property tax burden on Fifth District residents. 

Gottheimer was joined outside a local Jackson Hewitt Tax Service branch in Maywood today by Borough Council Members Jacqueline Flynn and Louis Roer.

“Like most folks, I think taxes are far too high in Jersey. And they should be lower to make life more affordable for folks and for our small businesses. I’ve been working overtime on lowering taxes, since the day I was elected,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Co-Chair of the bipartisan SALT Caucus. “Now, we’re clawing more of our federal tax dollars back to Jersey from Washington and away from the Moocher States to help take a major financial weight off our state, county, and local budgets, and help lower the property tax burden on our families. These federal dollars not only help keep property taxes down, but also improve our roads and bridges, our water infrastructure, transit, and medical services, and allow us to invest in our veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs.”

Action Gotthemer is Leading to Lower Taxes in North Jersey:

Clawing Federal Tax Dollars Back to North Jersey Counties and Towns, Lowering the Property Tax Burden On Our Residents: Since taking office, Gottheimer has helped claw 112% more federal tax dollars back to North Jersey from Washington and away from the Moocher States — investments that help lower the property tax burden on our residents. For 2020 alone, the federal tax dollars clawed back amount to an average savings of $415 for each household in the Fifth District — not including the support from the COVID-19 relief packages. 

Securing Federal Tax Dollars to Help North Jersey First Responders: Fire departments, police departments, and EMTs across Bergen, Sussex, Passaic, and Warren Counties are now clawing back more investment through federal grant programs: $2.35 million in 2020 through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), more than $955,000 since 2016 through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, $3.5 million worth of equipment in 2020 through the LESO 1033 excess resources program, and more than $2.7 since 2016 through the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS).

Making Life More Affordable: Gottheimer recently unveiled a new Affordability Agenda for Jersey, which includes working to get fuel and energy prices down, cutting day-to-day costs like prescription drug and childcare costs, helping cut through red tape and bureaucracy, and cutting taxes for hard-working families, including by reinstating State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. 

Restoring the SALT Deduction: Gottheimer has led efforts in the House to restore the State and Local Tax deduction, to give an immediate tax cut to hard-working, middle class families in Jersey. The House passed legislation late last year that will help finally restore the SALT deduction and cut taxes for hardworking New Jersey families. Gottheimer is pushing the Senate to pass the restoration of the SALT deduction and get it to the President’s desk. 

Video of today’s announcement can be found here.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Thank you for joining me here in Maywood, on a day that most Americans, including me, despise: tax day. 

As you may know, like most folks, I think taxes are far too high in Jersey. And they should be lower to make life more affordable for folks and for our small businesses. I’ve been working overtime on this, since the day I was elected.

On top of that, the IRS is still grappling with a massive backlog of 3 million unprocessed tax returns from last year, keeping dollars out of the pockets of hardworking families. That’s why, earlier this year, I announced a Taxpayer Action Plan to help cut the bureaucratic red tape at the IRS, including how my team and I are working to get our residents’ tax refunds back to NJ families.

But, instead of just looking at the dark side of tax day and the IRS backlog, I want to look for something positive today – the tax dollars we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington and away from the Moocher States to help take a major financial weight off our state, county, and local budgets, and help lower the property tax burden on our families. 

These federal dollars not only help keep property taxes down, but also improve our roads and bridges, our water infrastructure, transit, and medical services, and allow us to invest in our veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs.

In other words, if we are going to get stuck paying taxes, and again, I want them to be cut, in the meantime, I want to make sure as much of what we send to the federal government comes back to Jersey to help us. That’s been my commitment – and, as the evidence shows, we’ve delivered. 

But, before I get to some good news, let’s recount a few challenges: 

It’s a surprise to no one that New Jersey currently has the highest property taxes in the nation, which is ridiculous and why there need to be cuts. To be more precise, recent findings from ATTOM, a leading provider of real estate records and property data, showed that we have every right to complain here in Jersey. The average single-family-home tax of $9,400 in 2021 led the nation. That’s roughly ten times more than the average of $901 in West Virginia. 

Not to mention, according to the Tax Foundation’s 2022 State Business Tax Climate Index, of all 50 states, New Jersey currently has some of the highest business taxes in the nation, ranking the highest for corporate income tax. This is simply unacceptable and it’s hurting our great state. 

Because of issues like this, too many Jersey families, millennials, small businesses, and jobs are moving out of our state. According to United Van Lines’ annual National Movers Study, New Jersey ranked as the top state in the nation for outbound migration last year, a spot we’ve held for the prior four years too.

So, I think we should use today as a wake-up call to the state of Jersey – and to our towns, to our counties – that it’s time to lower taxes for our families.  

It’s very hard to lead the country if we can’t keep our people and our jobs here. We need to get our state and local costs down, and get innovative businesses to move and stay here!  We need to restore the State and Local Tax Deduction, or SALT, which I fought for, and helped craft and pass out of the House at the end of last year. It’s time for the Senate to step up and get it to the President’s desk. 

Now, for the good news on the tax cut front – and what I’ve been working with our mayors, councils, and first responders to get done, including right here in Maywood

When I ran for Congress almost six years ago, I realized that since the state, county, and localities set tax rates, the best thing I could do was to fight to claw more of the tax dollars we sent to Washington back to Jersey. My predecessor didn’t believe in this approach, so we were leaving gobs of federal grants, equipment, and other dollars on the table every year for the simple reason that we weren’t applying. 

Instead, our tax dollars kept getting shipped to Moocher States like Mississippi and Alabama — they got millions in grants to help pay for things to offset town budgets, and to — in turn — lower their state and local taxes. 

And we usually didn’t. There are all of these grant programs out there and investments to better equip, recruit, and pay our first responders; and, historically, we just hadn’t applied for many of them. And the person in my seat didn’t push for them. 

So, the Moocher States got lots of relief on their local and property taxes — and we paid retail. 

As my dad has always said, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Well, thanks to our mayors and councils, county officials, and our police and fire chiefs and departments, and with my Director of Return on Investments, a full-time position in my office, we started applying and fighting for that return on investment that we deserved, given what we pay. 

The results of our efforts together are remarkable. Through a lot of work with mayors, councils, and first responders, I’m proud to report today that New Jersey’s Fifth District is now realizing a far better Return on Investment on the tax dollars our residents send to Washington every year, compared to what we’ve historically gotten back.

Since I took office, we are up more than 112 percent through 2020 in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington — investments that help lower the property tax burden on our residents.

In 2020 alone, we clawed back $415 for every single North Jersey family. And this 112 percent doesn’t include the COVID-19 emergency resources we fought for and brought to the families and small businesses of the Fifth District, the great wins we’re still calculating that we secured for our towns last year in 2021, or the bipartisan federal investments that I secured for ten community projects that will serve residents across the District, which the President just signed into law last month.

Of course, the CARES packages in 2020, and the American Rescue Plan from this past year, provided critical relief for our communities — for our hospitals, vaccine deployment, relief for families, small businesses, counties, and towns, and key investment for broadband and sewer.  These dollars have been particularly important, as our county and town budgets were stretched to the max, as we dealt with the darkest days of the pandemic.  

And it doesn’t include the recently enacted, once-in-a-century Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill I helped shape and pass, including resources to build the new Gateway Train Tunnel, fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and NJ Transit, address storm resiliency, expand broadband, and help get lead out of our children’s drinking water. Bringing this major investment to our community will also help reduce the cost burden on our state and local governments.   

Now, let’s talk about the federal dollars we’ve helped our towns and counties claw back to our District, which programs we’ve utilized, and how it has helped lower the property tax burden on our families and make our towns even better places to live. 

There are major federal first responder grant programs that I’ve worked with towns across our District to utilize — including the Law Enforcement Support Office equipment, or LESO program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, or AFG program, the Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER grant program, and the Community Oriented Policing Services, known as the COPS program. This reinforces my belief that we need to invest in — not defund — law enforcement, especially for our smaller communities

In fact, right here in Maywood, between 2017 and 2020, the borough clawed back more than half a million dollars in LESO equipment to reduce the financial burden on the borough’s budget and help prevent an added rise in local taxes. 

Let me give you a few real-world examples of how these grant dollars helped recently. Just a couple months back, when Hurricane Ida devastated so many of our towns, several of our communities utilized the high-water vehicles they received from the LESO program to reach people. 

During Ida, other towns utilized ambulances from the AFG program to transport and save the lives of those who were injured; and many fire and EMS departments are better staffed thanks to the SAFER grants — staff who went on to literally save those from being swept away after they fell through collapsed bridges or washed-out roads. 

We’ve also been working to make sure federal dollars get to our small businesses that are in need of relief. For instance, in 2021, I met Chris Tessein, a U.S. Army veteran and small business owner in Hackensack, when he visited the newly-opened SBA Business Recovery Center in Bergen County. His business is a registered service disabled veteran owned company, and he was there to submit a disaster loan application following Hurricane Ida flooding his business. 

With some help from my team and me, we were able to cut through red tape at the SBA, which was holding up the loan, and get Chris the resources he needed to recover from the storm damage.

We’ve also clawed back dollars to help firefighters put out a blaze, help law enforcement protect us from terror, and help towns get federal dollars for storm clean-up, generators, trucks, boats for floods, repairs, gear to help EMTs, and for emergency management. 

By clawing back all of this to North Jersey, our mayors, councils, and first responders have lifted significant costs off of our town budgets and helped provide critical tax relief to our residents on their property tax line. 

While I’ve been in office, towns like here in Maywood, as well as Belvidere, Hackensack, Oradell, and Washington Township in Warren County have really utilized the federal surplus equipment programs, called 1033 or LESO, and gotten items like extreme weather gear, maintenance kits, trailers, generators, trucks, and more to help them right now. 

This equipment, if not recouped by our towns in Jersey, will either go to other states or be destroyed.

For example, Westwood, a borough with a little more than 10,000 residents, has clawed back more than $2.5 million from this program to help their first responders. Upper Saddle River clawed back nearly $480,000 via LESO for trucks that they used to save twenty-four people submerged in water during Hurricane Ida. These investments are so important because it helps keep our local budgets down which in turn can help reduce our families’ property tax burden.

Before I was in office, the Fifth District only brought back $798,000 per year on average through the LESO program. Now, just looking at one recent calendar year alone (2020), we clawed back more than $3.5 million — a huge increase for North Jersey — and real savings to our taxpayers. I want to thank our district’s towns for fighting for their taxpayers.  

Since 2016 and through 2020, we’ve clawed back more than $4.4 million through the AFG program, to Jersey from Washington, for life-saving firefighting equipment. In 2020 alone, we clawed back nearly $2.35 million; that’s half a million more a year on average than North Jersey got before my time in office.

These are critical dollars that our firefighters and emergency service personnel can use to keep themselves and our communities safe — and it doesn’t come out of our town’s budgets.

We’ve also had huge AFG wins last year in communities like Oradell, Teaneck, Old Tappan, Paramus, Ramsey, Washington Township, Sussex, and Ringwood. These grants are worth thousands of dollars and save local taxpayers money.

Since I took office, the Fifth District has landed more than $945,000 in SAFER and other fire department grants.

A great example of the SAFER grant in action was in October this past year, when we clawed back $212,000 in federal investment to support the Demarest Fire Department and help them attract and retain volunteer firefighters to continue protecting the community, and protect themselves, while ensuring that we lower local taxes. We should always have their backs.

On top of that, the COPS — or community policing — program has helped us claw back more than $2.77 million since I took office — and helped our police officers better protect us and themselves.

Additionally, to help out our communities with the expenses brought on by the COVID pandemic, we clawed back more than $3 billion through the CARES Act, in pandemic relief through 2020. 

The bipartisan legislation we passed in Congress early on included critical federal investments that went to hospitals, first responders, local businesses, families, and educational institutions.

For instance, we helped the New Jersey State Police claw back $47 million to help with the cost of COVID, our higher-ed institutions — a cornerstone of New Jersey — got support; including both Bergen and Sussex County Community Colleges; our hospitals like New Bridge Medical Center got extra beds, and we clawed back investment to help frontline workers stay safe and to care for our loved ones and neighbors.

And through the CARES Act, I helped claw back $1.8 million directly to Sussex County’s government to reimburse COVID related expenditures which helped lift a financial burden off the County’s budget. 

Finally, as I mentioned earlier this year, we successfully clawed back federal investment for ten community projects across the District to help take the financial weight off our towns’ and counties’ budgets. Not only will this investment help lower the property tax burden on our residents, but it will significantly improve our communities. 

The projects include upgrades to public transportation, investments in three medical centers — New Bridge Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, and Hackensack University Medical Center — water infrastructure improvements, and expanded services for our elderly, disabled, and veteran communities. 

For example, I helped claw back $250,000 from Washington for Bergen County’s Hackensack Transit Connector Project. So many of our North Jersey residents rely on public transportation to get to and from school and work and to our shopping centers. This will invest in additional buses and expand the Connector’s routes to train stations, bus terminals, shopping centers, and so much more — stimulating our local economy. 

I also helped claw back $500,000 to Sussex County’s elderly, veteran, and employment services transportation. This investment will be used to help acquire five new buses that each carry sixteen passengers and two wheelchairs. 

And for years now, it’s been my key priority to get clean drinking water for our children and families. With that bipartisan legislation I just helped pass and get signed into law, I’m proud to have clawed back a critical $2.8 million bipartisan investment to help Ridgewood Water get lead and forever chemicals out of residents’ drinking water in Ridgewood, Midland Park, Glen Rock, and Wyckoff.

Last point: Through all of this, I’m committed to more transparency, to rooting out all wasteful government spending, clawing back federal dollars to North Jersey, and to doing everything possible to cut our taxes by working with our local officials.

But why let those dollars go to Moocher States — and not here?

Getting our tax dollars back home is not a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s purely what’s good for hardworking Jersey families and businesses, and it’s about cutting taxes and helping make life more affordable.

If you have any questions, now or in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

We are always available to help — even right now we are helping first responders by supporting them with letters of support for federal grants. 

North Jersey residents know that every bit helps when it comes to lowering taxes, and I will continue to fight to claw back dollars from Washington. 

By all of us working together, to get more federal dollars back to North Jersey, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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