I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Good Read About NJ Taxes

I was working on a big post about whether or not NJ really was a high-tax state - no, really I was.

Turns out Mary Forsberg did all the work for me:
At least five times in his budget address, Gov. Chris Christie claimed New Jersey residents are the most over-taxed in the country with more state and local taxes taken as a percent of income than any other state in America. He apparently believes if he says that repeatedly with enough conviction it will be true. His words are carefully selected so his tax statements aren’t totally wrong, but are misleading.
For some, this works. But facts, based on the latest Census of Government Finance and population statistics, do not support his rhetoric.
Contrary to the governor’s message, New Jersey ranks fifth per capita and 28th as a percent of personal income in total state and local taxes paid by residents. The percent of personal income measure takes into account New Jersey’s wealth.
This goes against all talking points by the governor, the ed commish, NJ 101.5, and right-wing pundits all over the state. It can not, therefore, be true.

Except, according to Bruce Baker at Rutgers, it is:
a) New Jersey is not, in fact, the highest taxed state in the nation. Our property taxes are high, but our income and sales taxes are modest by comparison. We’re also not number one in property taxes when all states are considered and when property taxes are measured as a percent of income.
The idea that we are the most taxed state in the nation is the ideological cornerstone of the Christie administration's plans; turns out it's just not true. Think about that.

And, yes, I know about this. We'll talk more later this week; for now, it should be enough that there are at least a few serious wonks out there who have a different read where we stand with taxes.

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