LANJ Takes Key Step Toward Axing Dreaded Sales Tax

LCT Staff
Posted on November 17, 2010

The association’s executive director will have an opportunity to meet directly with the right hand people of Gov. Chris Christie. Repeal of the sales tax would be a major victory for the industry in rolling back burdensome taxation.

TRENTON, N.J. — Barry Lefkowitz, the executive director of the LIMOUSINE ASSOCIATIONS OF NEW JERSEY, confirmed this week that he has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7 to talk to the Governor’s office about supporting a repeal of the state sales tax on limousine service.

Lefkowitz will meet with Richard Bagger, chief of staff to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, to discuss having the administration support legislation sponsored by Senators Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, and Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, to eliminate the onerous “sales tax on service.” That hated tax was placed on the state’s chauffeured transportation industry four years ago by the administration of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, who Christie defeated in an upset victory in November 2009.

LANJ’s position is that the tax has been harmful to the industry and contributed to state operators dropping in number from 1,200 to 834 since 2006, and to the poaching of New Jersey corporate clients by operators in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York who can profitably offer a 7% discount to clients because they don’t have to pay the tax.

The amount of money raised by the tax is less than the amount of revenue lost to the state from decreased business. Lefkowitz, a veteran industry lobbyist who has a track record of successfully advocating national and state legislation that benefits operators, describes the meeting as “extremely important to the industry,” since Gov. Christie has power to veto any legislation that is passed.

A repeal of the New Jersey state sales tax would serve as a leading industry indicator that governments are shifting to a more business friendly posture. The push to repeal the sales tax comes at a time when the New Jersey state government is becoming more favorable to business and economic development.

Working toward a more productive state environment for small businesses was the key message during a Nov. 9 presentation by Elizabeth McKay, a senior policy advisor at the Department of State and to Republican LT. GOV. GUADANGO. McKay spoke to LANJ operators during an association meeting held at the Limousine Digest Show at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J.

Since Gov. Christie was sworn in last January, the administration has worked to make economic development a Cabinet level endeavor, with the New Jersey Partnership for Action serving as the hub for all economic development activity in New Jersey, McKay explained. The Partnership, through the three interconnected organizations of Choose New Jersey, Business Action Center, and the Economic Development Authority, will work to attract new business and help existing businesses thrive by: Focusing on relationship building and person to person outreach, promoting the state's incentives and resources, developing pro-growth policies, and assisting businesses in navigating state government and programs.

McKay said the Christie-Guadango administration is also working on a “red tape review” of outmoded rules, laws, and policies that burden businesses. “Our goal is tax cuts and to make business and government interaction more friendly,” McKay said. The administration has identified three key problems in business and government interactions: predictability, transparency, and timeliness.

To address shortfalls in those areas, McKay explained that Gov. Christie signed an executive order in January requires: 1) Advanced notice of new rules and meetings with affected groups; 2) Federal pre-emption, which prevents from New Jersey laws from superseding federal ones unless there is a good reason to do so; and 3) All executive departments must adopt licensing and permitting rules that carry regulations forward from the day an applicant gets them.

So far, 13% of proposed new regulations in the state have been withdrawn, McKay said. Operators and business owners with concerns or questions about state rules and regulations can call McKay at the Department of State at (609) 984-7145.

Sources: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine; LIMOUSINE ASSOCIATIONS OF NEW JERSEY; Office of Gov. Chris Christie.

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