The New jersey Economic Development Authority is parsing through a backlog of companies waiting on hundreds of millions of dollars in tax break payments for 2018, as it ramps up its vetting process to ensure businesses are actually complying with the program.
As of Jan. 31, the EDA paid out a combination of 50 Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks and Economic Redevelopment and Growth gap financing awards, totaling $72.3 million.
Altogether, the tax break payments total $318 million for taxes that 158 companies paid in 2018, according to the EDA.
Another 15 companies received the go-ahead from the EDA, but still need to be vetted by the Division of Taxation before receiving tax break payments. Seventy companies are at various stages of EDA review, according to the agency. All told, there are 105 companies waiting on a combined $214 million of tax break payments.
In September, the EDA released $52.7 million in payments to 31 companies whose awards will total $533 million over their decade-long lifetime. Only 10 projects spanning $11.6 million under Grow NJ were paid in September, and 21 projects spanning $41.2 million ERG dollars.
The EDA’s process of slowing down tax break payments has met intense opposition from lawmakers and business advocates, worried that the process would sow confusion and anxiety among businesses dependent on the payments.
Tim Sullivan, head of the Economic Development Authority, which oversees Grow NJ and ERG, maintained that the new process is in response to increasing questions over whether the agency conducted thorough oversight of the multibillion-dollar incentive program, if any at all in some cases. A state comptroller’s audit from January 2019, and a task force Gov. Phil Murphy convened last year, found glaring holes in the agency’s oversight of the program and making sure businesses were actually compliant.
“We continue to be focused on ensuring that taxpayers get what they were promised when tax credits were awarded,” Sullivan said in a September statement. “While our more rigorous process has taken some additional time this year, applicants can be confident that when they provide the data we need to verify their jobs, they will receive the awards they’ve earned.”