Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Last night, I was honored to receive the Republican nomination for a seat in the state Assembly, to represent the district where I have lived for over fifty years.

Some Tax Cuts are a Shell Game

highest property tax

New Jersey sometimes has the highest income tax in the nation, sometimes has the highest property tax, and sometimes both. Right now, they are both obscenely high. The proposal to "lower" property taxes by shifting them to income tax, is a sham.

In fact, it's already been done. Go to any one of the fifteen treasurers of the fifteen municipalities in the 6th Legislative District, and he will tell you -- the state budget already pays half of the expenses of the local towns, and it does so with money it gets from income taxes. Since I pay both taxes, I don't see how it lowers my tax costs at all.

And since the shell game has already been played once, it's entirely possible it can't be done a second time. The bond market will see the income taxes rising, go into a panic, and lower the New Jersey bond ratings. If we get to the point where we can't borrow any money from the bond market, we have really reached the end. There's really no alternative to cutting expenses, and for practical purposes, that means shifting state pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution. That's 401(k) we are talking about. Maybe we can save some money by putting a stop to double and triple-dipping the pensions from successive jobs, and putting a stop to escalating the last year before retirement with overtime work. Maybe the COLA doesn't have to be so rich. Maybe. But the big money is in the type of pension we pay.

Pretending we are doing something substantial by shifting property taxes to income taxes is only an election-year shell game.

Originally published: Wednesday, October 02, 2013; most-recently modified: Wednesday, June 05, 2019