If you’re one of Sussex County’s tens of thousands of commuters who spend more than an hour on the road getting to and from work, the $0.23 cent increase in the gas that took effect in November might have bit into your holiday cheer.
No worries! According to state Sen. Steve Oroho, who bucked even much of his own party to support the increase, new tax regulations that took effect on Sunday will help cushion the pain.
If you inherit a $2 million estate this year, you won’t pay taxes on it, and by 2018 you won’t even have to pay taxes on a multi-multi-million estate.
If you are among the poorest of the working poor, you can enjoy up to a $200 annual increase in your Earned Income Credit, which, if you don’t have a long commute, might offset the increase in your gas costs.
If you buy something really, really expensive, like a yacht or covering your house in gold leaf, you will probably notice the 0.375 percent decrease in the sales tax.
So, in Oroho's world, tax equity has been restored and all is well for middle- and lower-income households in New Jersey.
The new laws were part of a pernicious package deal that Oroho, among others, argued was needed to generate revenue for the state’s near-broke Transportation Trust Fund. In order to rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure (both roads and bridges, and mass transportation, which is almost nonexistent in Sussex County), Oroho argued, the state needs everyone who drives a car (or takes a bus or buys anything delivered by a truck) to bite the bullet and chip in.
Conversely, he argued, the state also needed to make sure the rich enjoy massive tax breaks that are estimated to cost New Jersey $300 million in the first year alone.
Oroho claims that eliminating the estate tax, which affects the wealthiest 4 percent of the 70,000 estates settled annually in New Jersey, will stop the exodus out of the state. At the same time, he claims that the sales tax decrease—which is miniscule for most consumers but estimated to cost the state $92 million this year up to $655 million by 2022—will revitalize small businesses and attract commerce to the state.
Americans have been waiting since the 1980s for privileges for the wealthy to “trickle down,” and the wait will likely continue.
Meantime, Sussex County—with the highest flight rate, worst-rated commute and plummeting housing prices—can thank their highest-ranking representative in the State House for piling on just a little more hardship for the sake of seeing the rich get richer.