North Jersey GOP Lawmakers Want to End Mask Tax During COVID Crisis

GOP lawmakers in both houses of Trenton introduced legislation to end the taxation of masks in New Jersey for the general public.

State Sen. Kristin Corrado and Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips, both from the 40th Legislative District, are shepherding the bills in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders requiring New Jerseyans to wear masks indoors and outside if they cannot properly social distance.

“In the age of COVID, masks are now essential goods, not a luxury product. In typical New Jersey fashion, there’s a tax for this new necessity,” said Corrado (R-40). “My common-sense measure would exempt masks from this regressive tax that disproportionately impacts middle-class and low-income residents.”

Non-Medical Exemption

Corrado and DePhillips’ legislation would exempt masks for non-medical purposes from sales tax in New Jersey. Currently, protective equipment is only exempt from sales tax when purchased for the daily work of the user and worn as part of a work uniform or work clothing.

“Mandated face masks and coverings, which are being used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, should be treated similarly to medically-required equipment,” explained DePhillips. “Gov. Phil Murphy signed executive orders requiring masks for everyone over 2 years old, but that hasn’t stopped tax-happy New Jersey from making a buck off our new burden.”

“It’s unconscionable to continue to collect sales tax on protective face masks while we are in the middle of a public health crisis.”

Tax Exempt

Current exempt sales tax items include most food sold as grocery items, most clothing and footwear, disposable paper products for household use, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs.

“Our state does not tax clothing, disposable paper products, or medications,” added Corrado. “Given one cannot opt-out of purchasing masks due to Gov. Murphy’s mandate, non-medical grade masks should be added to this list. This is a fair and just change to implement, particularly during this pandemic.”

Daily Data

As of Nov. 10, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 263,495 with 3,078 total new cases reported and 15 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,676. The state listed probable deaths at 1,800, bringing the overall total to 16,476.

For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 360 new cases, Bergen 312 new cases, Hudson 282 new cases, Passaic 276 new cases, Morris 141 new cases, Sussex 27 new cases and Warren 20 new cases.

State officials noted 20 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,931, followed by Bergen at 1,830, Hudson with 1,382, Passaic at 1,132, Morris at 699, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 158.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 245, Essex has 230, Hudson has 158, Morris at 145, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 5 was 7.5%. By region, the North has a rate of 8.5%, Central at 6.0 and the South at 8.0%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.27 from 1.25 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 1,801 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 915 in the North, 446 in the Central and 440 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 334 are in intensive care units and 104 on ventilators, while 179 patients were discharged.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 28,451, followed by Bergen at 27,678, Hudson at 25,671, Middlesex at 24,606, Passaic at 23,388, Union at 22,824, Ocean at 17,933, Monmouth at 15,729, Camden at 13,638, Morris at 10,550, Mercer at 10,368, Burlington at 9,728, Somerset at 7,212, Gloucester at 6,458, Atlantic at 6,114, Cumberland at 4,321, Sussex at 1,939, Warren at 1,876, Hunterdon at 1,854, Salem at 1,265 and Cape May at 1,253.

Another 639 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 26 outbreaks involving 146 cases have been reported in 15 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 28 outbreaks involving 122 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has five confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with four cases, Sussex County has two confirmed outbreaks with five cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Hudson County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 206 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,588 of the cases, broken down between 2,491 residents and 2,097 staff. 

Cumulatively, 866 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,878 residents and 14,449 staff, for a total of 40,327 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,244 on Nov. 10. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,871 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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