New Jersey Dems have reached a deal to offer a 10 day tax holiday for school supplies later this Summer.
Gov. Phil Murphy joined with State Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-22) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) in announcing a back-to-school sales tax holiday from August 27 to September 5 as a part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget.
“A back-to-school tax holiday has been talked about for a long time, and as inflation is a central worry around many of our residents’ kitchen tables, now is the time to do it,” said Murphy at the press event held in Red Bank on June 22. “We can more than afford to give our families and students this tax break.”
The lawmakers promoted the move as the laststes attempts to make the satte more affordable for the middle class in New Jersey, in tandem with the The ANCHOR Tax Relief Program agreement announced last week is promoted as providing $2 billion worth of property tax relief along with other fee holidays expected to be enacted for the budget due June 30.
Scutari stated that “make no mistake about it, this is the Legislature’s direct attack on inflation…this is something we have the money to do and this is giving money back to taxpayers once again.”
The lifting of the 7% sales tax would be applied to school supplies and equipment such as pens and pencils, notebooks, and binders; art supplies, such as paints and paintbrushes, clay, and glazes; instructional materials, such as reference books, reference maps, globes, textbooks, and workbooks and computers supplies, such as computer storage equipment, printers, and personal digital assistants.
“This tax holiday for school products may not make kids look forward to school more, but it certainly will make parents happier when shopping for the goods they need to get their children in advance of the new school year,” said Scutari.
Lawmakers noted the average Garden State family spends upwards of $250 per child on school supplies alone and teachers spend around $600 of their own money on classroom supplies for their students. New Jersey joins 16 other states who suspend the sales tax for back-to-school shopping.
“Between school and art supplies, new electronics like a laptop or tablet, and sports equipment, getting kids prepared for the new academic year can weigh on a family’s wallet in a big way,” said Coughlin. “Our back-to-school holiday lowers the price tag of school items for the up to two million New Jersey families with children in a K-12 school, for our teachers, and for our college students.”
The Speaker added that “As we head into summer where we’re all bracing for higher prices … this is gonna bring some well-deserved relief. It’s another step in bringing affordability to New Jersey.”
GOP Decries Gimmick
In response, Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio (R-23) continued to push his proposal that features an income tax cut for low-income and middle-class families rather than what he considers an “underwhelming gimmick.”
“How tone deaf are they? When you can’t afford living in New Jersey, this short holiday on notebooks and pencils is meaningless,” said DiMaio in a press statement. “It’s a shame that they don’t make a true commitment to provide long-term tax cuts like Republicans have. This is a red herring to make people think they aren’t being overtaxed when they are and continue to be with Democrats in charge.”
But State Sen. Vin Gopal noted that this was a program that targets ones that need it the most, unlike previous Republican programs that focus on tax breaks focused on the top 1%.
Targeting the Middle Class
“We are doing the opposite here…parents are really having trouble right now, with gas prices and inflation,” said Gopal. “This is really going to help them a lot…things are not going well around the country, people are concerned. This sales tax holiday will have the greatest impact on middle class families for those that are just trying to get by.”
Murphy added that sports equipment and bicycle safety gear will be included in the tax holiday. Clothes are already exempted from the state’s sales tax.
“This program will cut the cost for the most essential items needed for educational success and help make New Jersey more affordable for our students and families,” he said.