You think Amazon got a sweet deal from Virginia? N.J. paid three times as much for tax breaks, expert says

September 6, 2019

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed an extension of the programs last month. Before that, an investigative task force appointed by Murphy had said it found $500 million in questionable tax break awards to companies.

A special state Senate committee started hearings on economic incentives in July.

During Thursday’s hearing, Rutgers professor Michael Lahr said he was troubled by provisions for property tax abatements.

Under the 2013 Economic Opportunity Act, which revamped the state’s tax credit programs, companies relocating to the long-struggling city of Camden could avoid paying property taxes for up to 10 years, and then pay a reduced tax rate until the 20th year of a building project.

“In distressed areas, this seems like insanity to me,” said Lahr, director of Rutgers Economic Advisory Service. Property taxes are the “source of income” a city will get from a newly built facility, he continued. If businesses get the property tax abatement, he said, “somehow the state should step in” and give those same tax revenues back to the city.

Philadelphia Inquirer, September 5, 2019

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