The full Assembly today has approved a bill to increase the incomes taxes paid by New Jersey’s roughly 16,000 millionaires. The State Senate will vote on the measure Thursday. Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill in each of th4e last two years and promises to do it again this year.

The bill changes the rate of the New Jersey gross income tax for 16,000 taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $1 million from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent, restoring it to its 2009 level and raising the $789 million for the property tax relief program. It was approved 47-31 along party lines.

Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald sponsors the legislation. He says, "Governor Christie once said cutting property tax rebates was akin to declaring war on the middle class, but upon taking office he callously threw gasoline on the property tax crisis fire by slashing property tax relief. The Governor’s failure to fulfill his promise was to the detriment of New Jerseyans who have been hit with a net 20 percent property tax hike under his watch. This bill gives the governor the chance to begin living up to his promise and provide substantial and real property tax relief to the middle-class and seniors."

“The Corzine Democrats are resurfacing and showing the public how adept they are at raising taxes, but are not so proficient at creating jobs and economic development,” says Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Anthony Bucco. “Assemblyman Greenwald and his Democrat colleagues have failed twice in their ill-conceived attempt at raising taxes on many of the small companies that provide and create jobs and contribute a significant amount of income tax revenue. Businesses want stability and predictability so they can plan accordingly. The only plans that would result from this bill are small businesses closing or moving somewhere else.”

The bill would: deliver a $789 million boost to the Homestead Benefit Program, which pays credits against local property taxes, helping lower a homeowner's property tax bill; triple the amount available under the program, providing for significantly enhanced property tax relief payments to the state’s beleaguered homeowners and tenants ($398.5 million had already been budgeted); and senior and disabled homeowners would receive homestead benefits according to existing law. This would equal 20 percent of the first $10,000 in property taxes paid in 2011 if an applicant’s income does not exceed $100,000, 15 percent if the applicant’s income is more than $100,000 but not more than $150,000 and 10 percent if an applicant’s income is more than $150,000 but not more than $250,000;

Other homeowners would receive the same homestead benefits to which they are entitled under last year’s budget, but eligibility would be extended to homeowners with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000. Additionally homeowners would have their rebate calculated based on their 2011 property taxes paid rather than on their 2006 property taxes, as proposed in the governor’s budget proposal, making the relief more updated and meaningful.