NJ Assembly OKs Tax-Filing Extensions Due To COVID-19

By Paul Williams
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Law360 (March 16, 2020, 6:25 PM EDT) -- New Jersey individuals and corporations would be granted extra time to file their state tax income returns if a federal extension is offered in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, under legislation passed Monday by the state General Assembly.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin's cosponsored bill to extend the state tax-filing deadline should the federal government do the same unanimously passed the state Assembly on Monday.  (AP)

A.B. 3841 would provide New Jersey taxpayers with an extension to file annual and quarterly state gross income tax returns and corporation business tax returns due on or before April 15 if the Internal Revenue Service extends its deadline for federal returns. The Assembly passed the bill with a 65-0 vote, along with a host of other measures tagged as emergency legislation designed to assist the state in addressing COVID-19. The legislation will next be considered by the state Senate.

The federal government is currently weighing a tax-return deadline extension. If it is provided, New Jersey's bill would match the federal extension date for state income tax returns, up to June 30. The Assembly's bill was offered to alleviate burdens for New Jersey taxpayers affected by the outbreak who may have difficulties filing timely tax returns or settling payments, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Law360.

After the bill passed, its primary sponsors touted the measure, saying it would allow taxpayers to put their tax returns on the back burner and focus on other aspects of their lives that might take priority during the outbreak.

"Allowing more time to file can help many of those who need to go into a tax service in person, as well as giving flexibility to owners who may face some disruption in their businesses," two co-sponsors of the bill, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Newark, and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Bayonne, said in a joint statement.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Westfield, another co-sponsor, added in a separate statement that the bill would help ensure that taxpayers weren't forgotten while the state focuses on addressing the public health emergency.

"Our state's top priority is safeguarding public health, but we must also protect the financial health of our economy," Bramnick said.

At an unrelated press conference Monday, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that 178 New Jersey residents had tested positive for the virus, a jump from the 98 cases that the state reported Sunday. Two state residents have died from COVID-19, Murphy reported Saturday.

Over the weekend, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-West Deptford, unveiled his own wish list of legislative and administrative responses to COVID-19. Those initiatives included bills for a payroll tax holiday and sales tax holiday, a cut in the sales tax remittance obligations for small businesses and a tax credit for businesses that pay employees who are quarantined due to COVID-19.

Sweeney also called for a tax-filing deadline extension, although he said that the state Division of Taxation, like the federal government, has the power to extend certain deadlines administratively.

A representative for Sweeney and the division did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

On Monday, Murphy also announced that, like some other states, New Jersey would close its restaurants to the public and only allow delivery or takeout options to customers, starting Monday night.

Murphy spokesman Darryl Isherwood told Law360 on Monday that the governor would be open-minded in determining how the state can assist taxpayers who are detrimentally affected by the virus.

"As this is a fast-moving and fluid situation, the governor is considering all options to best help New Jersey residents and business owners weather this crisis," Isherwood said. "We will be considering several proposals in the coming days to come up with the best possible response."

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association submitted testimony in support of the Assembly's tax extension bill Monday. The business group also backed Sweeney's proposals, including the tax-filing extension, according to a statement the association issued Saturday.

Bob Considine, the association's chief communications officer, referred Law360 to that statement on Monday.

"We believe the protections and extensions proposed today are a start toward helping to mitigate some of the negative economic impacts being experienced, or soon to be experienced, by our job creators, workers and their families as we go through this together," Michele N. Siekerka, the association's president and CEO, said Saturday.

--Editing by Neil Cohen.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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