New Jersey Ranks Last in List of Best Business Climates

By Briana Vannozzi

You can file this one under things you already know: New Jersey has high taxes, and a lot of them. So when the D.C. based Tax Foundation released their annual list for the best and worst business climates in the country, industry insiders weren’t surprised to find the Garden State ranked dead last.

“We have the highest property taxes, and the tax foundation also looked at corporate taxes, income taxes and our general business climate and regulations,” said Erica Jedynak, New Jersey state director for Americans for Prosperity.

And that’s not all.

“We’re one of only two states with both an estate and inheritance tax,” said Andrew Musick, Director of taxation and economic development for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

The conservative research group looked at five tax categories with over 100 factors weighed for each. It ranked Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska as the top three. Not states you’d typically associate with big business. Meanwhile, California, New York, and New Jersey rounded out the bottom.

“Being located in the northeast, in New Jersey specifically, you’re located to millions upon millions of customers. You do have the infrastructure you need whether its by rail by road or air, and you also have access to one of the most highly educated work forces in the country,” Musick said.

The state’s business and industry association believes that gives New Jersey a competitive advantage, one we need to use more efficiently.

The news comes as Governor Christie makes his run for president, touting the positive changes he’s made to the business environment, despite the economic downturn. The state has offered major tax incentives to corporations with promises to create jobs.

Those $6 billion in tax incentives were really just to politically connected corporations. They’re not actually getting to you or I, the average property tax payer in New Jersey. If you or I open a deli, or a local business, in our town, we don’t have access to those types of tax incentives. We don’t have lobbyists in Trenton, so its really just going to the upper political elite,” said Jedynak.

Her thoughts for that money?

“Imagine that $6 billion that’s been dolled out. What if that was across the board in property tax relief? Imagine all these baby boomers. They may stay here in New Jersey, and we would keep more tax revenue here and have more money to run services and the core functions of government,” she said.

New Jersey did give a decent showing for the unemployment insurance tax rate, coming in at number 31. Even as the hits continue over New Jersey’s high tax burdens, the state legislature is poised to propose a new tax soon — 14.5-cent gas tax to help plug the draining hole in the Transportation Trust Fund.