At a Wednesday afternoon press conference in Red Bank, Gov. Phil Murphy; Senate President Nick Scutari, D-22nd District; and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, announced reaching an agreement on a back-to-school sales tax holiday for the Garden State.
The accord comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of a $2 billion expansion to the ANCHOR Property Tax Relief Program, as the leaders hit the home stretch of budget negotiations before the new fiscal year begins July 1, 2022. It also comes amid a windfall of surplus funds, which NJBIZ has reported on extensively, that leaders are negotiating how to allocate, at a time when inflation and high gas prices are hitting so many New Jerseyans hard in their wallets.
“We are proud to announce that we have reached [an] agreement on another aspect of the final budget framework that will help make life a little more affordable for many of our families,” said Murphy. “As part of the final budget, we will enact a companion piece of legislation that will establish a 10-day sales tax holiday for all back-to-school supplies.”
The sales tax holiday will take place from Aug. 27 to Sept. 5.
The supplies and equipment that will be tax exempt under the sales tax holiday include:
“A back-to-school tax holiday has been talked about for a long time, as inflation is a central worry around many of our residents’ kitchen tables, now is the time to do it,” said Murphy. “This program will cut the cost for the most essential items needed for educational success and help make New Jersey more affordable for our students and families.”
“Make no mistake about it. This is the legislative’s direct attack on inflation,” said Scutari. “This is one of the things that our state Legislature can do to attack rising costs across the state in a limited number of goods. And this is something that we have the money to do, and this is giving that money back to taxpayers once again.”
“Between school and art supplies, new electronics like a laptop or tablet, and sports equipment, getting kids prepared for the new academic year can weigh on a family’s wallet in a big way,” said Coughlin. “Our back-to-school holiday lowers the price tag of school items for up to two million New Jersey families with children in K-12 school, for our teachers, and for our college students. Combined with $2 billion property tax relief under ANCHOR, it furthers the commitment to deliver on our promise of enacting the largest tax relief program in our state’s history.”
“Preparing for a new school year is a stressful time for New Jersey families, mentally, emotionally and economically,” said Sen. Vin Gopal, 11th District. “By implementing this sales-tax holiday in the weeks before the first bell rings, we will be offering families a measure of relief from those stresses, by helping them to fill their kids’ back-to-school lists without breaking their household budgets.”
New Jersey joins 16 other states that already have such programs.
“This tax holiday for school products may not make kids look forward to school more, but it certainly will make parents happier when shopping for the goods they need to get their children in advance of the new school year,” Scutari said.
Senate Republicans have already slammed the sales tax holiday, instead touting their “Give It Back” rebates.
“I don’t think the 13 cents in sales tax savings on a $2 box of pencils that Democrats have proposed amounts to substantial relief for New Jersey families. Senate Republicans have proposed $8 billion in real tax relief in our budget plan, including $1,500 in immediate rebates, that we urge our colleagues to act upon,” said Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th District. “And do we really expect people to wait until the very last week to begin to prepare for the upcoming school year? Trenton Democrats have lost touch with reality.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:40 p.m. ET June 22 to include a statement from Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th District.e