There are more than 930,000 small and family-owned businesses in New Jersey. They account for more than 99% of all the businesses in New Jersey, employing about half of all Garden State workers.

Small business owners standing in front of cafe
Morgan Lane Studios

In New Jersey and across America, small businesses serve as the backbone and the foundation for our economy. With so many small businesses crushed by the irresponsible and misguided full-lockdown policies pushed by the current governor and majority party, they need help, a lot of help.

Before the lockdowns caused the permanent shutdown of tens of thousands of businesses, our small business community was already struggling terribly with out-of-control and ever-increasing taxation and a regulatory burden not seen in any other state.

The impact of this government negligence has resulted in 28% of New Jersey small businesses planning to close sooner than they had previously anticipated with another 31% still determining whether they’ll close or sell within the next year.

Closed sign hanging in business window
Susan Vineyard

NJ government must change course immediately. We need to lower the tax burden, alleviate the regulatory nightmare and create an environment of prosperity and growth.

To that end, we urge the legislature and the governor to implement our “Small Business Protection Act.”

As a first step, YOU can sign as a "Citizen Signer" HERE.

Here are my 10 common-sense steps to save and support New Jersey small businesses:

1. Lower Taxes, Reduce Regulation


New Jersey small businesses shall have the right to operate free of excessive government regulation and interference. There must be an audit of all current taxes and regulations in order to eliminate any unnecessary burden.

2. ALL Workers Are Essential

Christina @ via Unsplash
Christina @ via Unsplash

New Jersey small businesses shall be deemed essential and shall not be subject to arbitrary shut-down or stay-at-home orders related to a government-declared public health crisis. All NJ workers are essential.

3. Protection From Liability

Arthur Franklin via Unsplash
Arthur Franklin via Unsplash

New Jersey small businesses that follow workplace protocols as established by law, should receive limited liability protections during a public emergency and be protected retroactively from COVID-19 claims, including those who allowed for legal exemptions from executive orders during the COVID lockdowns. The threat of unknown and potentially unbounded liability to small businesses has left many small businesses vulnerable and has created an overpowering public necessity for an immediate and remedial solution.

4. Employment-At-Will Protection

Newspaper Job Search

New Jersey is an employment-at-will state and therefore, small businesses shall have the right to hire and terminate employees at will, for cause or misconduct without a guaranteed retention period and salary regardless of industry, ownership tenure, sale, or change of control.

5. Employee Retention Credit

Kate Townsend via Unsplash
Kate Townsend via Unsplash

New Jersey should institute an Employee Retention Tax Credit for all New Jersey small businesses that are hiring and maintaining staff in this challenging climate. This will lower the burden for small businesses doing everything in their power to stay open.

6. Eliminate Tax Increase for UI

Unemployment insurance form on a table.

NJ small businesses shall not pay unemployment insurance tax increases beyond their pre-lockdown UI payroll tax rate in scenarios where the increase in unemployment was not caused by their own actions, but rather from a government shutdown causing employers to place their workforce on unemployment for any period of time. Additionally, federal COVID relief money would be better spent on replenishing the fund instead of sending checks to residents who are here illegally.

7. Permanency of Regulatory Waivers

Adolfo Félix via Unsplash
Adolfo Félix via Unsplash

Where regulations are waived to meet public health needs and those waivers are deemed to create more efficiency and access for the workforce, customers, vendors, etc., and those waivers do not cause unnecessary disruption at the local level, those waivers shall be made permanent. These measures streamline business processes while maintaining consumer protections.

8. Small Businesses Are Also Property Owners

Showing Property Tax Concept

NJ small businesses that own land shall be properly recognized as “property owners” when it comes to property tax relief, reform, etc. NJ businesses pay almost 50% of property taxes in NJ and must be treated equally to other property owners, such as homeowners.

9. Immediate Tax Relief for COVID Lockdown Purchases

Restaurant Dining Room Closed Sign

Small businesses shall receive tax deductions and credits for COVID lockdown-related purchases made while the governor's shutdown orders were in place. They did what they had to do to survive under an undue burden created by the Trenton government and they should see relief like outdoor dining. This would include supplies, infrastructure investment, and improved HVAC systems.

10. Establish a Small Business Protection Cabinet Level Officer

New Jeresy State Capitol

2021 NJ property taxes: See how your town compares

Find your municipality in this alphabetical list to see how its average property tax bill for 2021 compares to others. You can also see how much the average bill changed from 2020. For an interactive map version, click here. And for the full analysis by New Jersey 101.5, read this story.

New Jersey's smallest towns by population

New Jersey's least populated municipalities, according to the 2020 Census. This list excludes Pine Valley, which would have been the third-smallest with 21 residents but voted to merge into Pine Hill at the start of 2022.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM