As New Jersey moves forward with a plan to borrow billions of dollars to offset staggering revenue losses from the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report finds there’s been a surge of wealth by a select group of the state’s richest residents and corporations.

The report by Americans for Tax Fairness, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports raising taxes on the wealthy, calls on state officials to take actions and enact “an end to tax breaks for the wealthiest New Jerseyans and for the state to continue the corporate business tax surcharge.

According to the report, the combined net worth of New Jersey’s billionaires jumped a staggering $1.77 billion from mid-March to early August 2020.

The report specifically recommends increasing taxes on New Jersey's wealthiest households, those earning more than $250,000 annually, while maintaining the 2.5% corporate tax surcharge on successful corporations doing business in the Garden State.

It concludes this could generate billions of dollars in new revenue for the state and ensure funding for essential public services like public schools, healthcare, and housing.

According to Sheila Reynertson, a senior policy analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, the pandemic has thrown New Jersey into an economic free-fall and bold action is needed.

“We do need to clean up the tax code to ensure wealthy families and large successful corporations are paying their fair share,” she said.

Reynertson said the pandemic has highlighted growing income inequalities in the Garden State that must be addressed.

“About 40% of our population is really struggling to pay the rent and pay the bills and buy the food and keep clothes on their children’s backs," she said.

She stressed the vast majority of people who have lost jobs and suffered during the health crisis are lower-income workers, not the rich.

“It’s like we’re living in two different worlds,” said Reynertson. “There are those who have no idea how they’re going to pay their rent and then those who just honestly are going about living their lives, ordering packages from Amazon, taking vacations.”

She said now is the time to address this problem “in a way that will ensure those who are doing well during the pandemic are paying their fair share and we as a society provide services that are desperately needed.”

The report identifies corporations in New Jersey that have reported increased profits during the pandemic, including Amazon, Walmart, Freedom Mortgages, NRG Energy, Campbell Soup, PSEG and American Water Works.

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