As Gov. Chris Christie prepares to propose today a plan to reduce income taxes by 10 percent, more than half of New Jersey voters support the cut but overestimate how much they would actually benefit from it, according to a poll.
“Most people do not think a lot about how much income tax they are paying until they have to do their taxes. It comes out of their paycheck and kind of just disappears,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “So what happens, I think, is that people have a vague idea of their total income tax — federal and state — and are basing their estimates on that general idea, not recognizing that state income tax is lower than federal, so is a relatively small percentage of all the income tax paid.”
As a result of this inaccurate perception, household income made little difference in voters’ support for the proposed tax cut, and 35 percent of the 914 registered voters polled indicated that a 10 percent tax cut would save them more than $500 each year; however, to get those savings, a household would need to earn over $150,000 in taxable income — which only 14 percent reported earning.
While 52 percent of respondents support Christie’s proposed income tax cut, an overwhelming majority would rather see their property taxes reduced first, including 80 percent of those who would benefit most from an income tax cut — the highest earners in the state.
According to Redlawsk, high earners prefer a property tax cut because the value of their homes is generally much higher than average and their monthly or quarterly property tax bills, from a mortgage or municipality, are more visible than annual income tax deductions.
“While recent changes pushed by Gov. Christie have placed stronger caps on property tax increases, voters still want to see those taxes actually reduced,” Redlawsk said in prepared remarks. “It’s one thing nearly everyone agrees on.”