The bill offers New Jersey residents a per-child refundable income tax credit of up to $500. (NJ Governor's Office)
New Jersey lawmakers are moving to correct an error that would have delayed the implementation of a state-level child tax credit by one year.
In June, the Legislature passed — and Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law — a bill offering New Jersey residents a per-child refundable income tax credit of up to $500.
But as a result of a drafting error, the version of the bill signed into law would only become effective in the 2023 tax year, leaving the credit unpaid for 2022 tax filings, even though its $100 million cost was factored into the current year spending plan approved in June.
The cleanup bill would make the credit apply to 2021 tax bills.
“This bill was always meant to provide immediate relief to families with young children, so we’re thankful lawmakers are coming back to get it right,” said Nicole Rodriguez, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Programs like the child tax credit are exactly how we make New Jersey an affordable place to raise a family, especially for those struggling the most with rising costs.”
New Jersey Policy Perspective and other progressive groups pushed for the inclusion of a state-level child tax credit in this year’s budget, and Rodriguez said her group would look to work with lawmakers to expand it in future years.
The cleanup is no surprise. A day after Murphy signed the bill, he issued a joint statement with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, and its sponsors saying they intended for the credit to be available for 2022 filings and pledged to correct its text at some point in the future.
But legislators knew the bill was flawed before they voted to send it to the governor’s desk. Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex), who was one of two Assembly lawmakers to vote against the bill, noted the error at the time.
“On the floor, I literally pointed out they had the wrong date on the thing, and it was almost robotic to table everything and not listen,” Wirths said. “It’s politics. I’m in the minority, I get it, but I do find it a little funny.”
Wirth’s motion to amend the bill was tabled in a party-line vote.
The Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee is set to hear the cleanup bill on Monday, and the full chamber could advance it as early as that day.
The Senate is slated to vote on the bill at its Thursday session. Senate lawmakers introduced their version of the bill directly onto second reading, precluding the need for a committee hearing.
The measure cleared both chambers in broadly bipartisan votes, receiving just two no-votes in the Assembly and six in the Senate. The cleanup is unlikely to face significant opposition. Murphy, likewise, is expected to sign the bill.
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