Saturday, January 7, 2017

State Tax Changes

Last November 1, New Jersey raised its state gas tax by 23 cents a gallon.  This was a pretty big increase, the old rate was 14.5 cents per gallon so the tax more than doubled but I didn't really object. The old rate was anomalously low and the roads have to be paid for somehow.  And the effect on me was insignificant.  I estimate I buy about 300 gallons of gas a year in New Jersey so the increase will cost me about $70 a year or a bit more than a penny a mile.

As part of the deal to raise the the gas tax the New Jersey sales tax was cut from 7% to 6.875% starting January 1, 2017 and to 6.625% starting January 1, 2018.  This affects me even less.  I estimate I spend about $10,000 a year subject to this tax.  So I will eventually save about $37.50 a year in sales tax or just over half of what the gas tax increase will cost me.

As noted above the first stage of the sales tax decrease was supposed to take effect on January 1, however I was a bit surprised to see the my local upscale supermarket still charging the old rate on Tuesday January 3.  However this was fixed by Wednesday and they apologetically refunded my nickle when I complained.

Sales tax rules tend to be complex and constantly changing so they impose a considerable compliance burden on businesses.  This is especially true for companies like Amazon who have to keep up with all the changes nationwide instead of just those affecting their particular location.  In my view any effort to make more out of state merchants collect sales tax needs to be coupled with simplification to reduce the compliance burden.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the compliance burden when figuring out the tax on Amazon purchases every year. Gas tax aside, propery tax is very high in NJ, so perhaps not the best place to retire.