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New Jersey Tax Filing Deadline is Extended from April 15th to July 15th


The state income tax filing deadline and the corporation business tax filing deadline will be extended from April 15 to July 15, as part of the State’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is an automatic extension. There is no need to file for an extension.

Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin issued the following joint statement yesterday on the tax filing deadline and the state budget timetable:

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardships, financial strain, and disruptions for many New Jerseyans and New Jersey businesses. As part of our response, we have reached agreement that the state income tax filing deadline and the corporation business tax filing deadline will be extended from April 15th to July 15th.

“Additionally, as part of the whole-of-government effort that is going into fighting COVID-19, we have agreed that the state fiscal year should be extended to September 30th . This will allow the Administration and the Legislature to focus fully on leading New Jersey out of this crisis, and to allow for a robust, comprehensive, and well-informed budget process later in the year.

“We are committed to working together to enact the necessary legislation and supplemental appropriations to accomplish these goals.”

Previously, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date is also extended from April 15 to July 15. Taxpayers can also defer federal income payments due on April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief.

 

Header:  Photo courtesy Governor Phil Murphy’s Facebook page

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Murphy Will ‘Almost Certainly’ Announce State Tax-Filing Extension But Won’t Say When


Governor says delay is due to ‘a number of moving parts,’ such as how state will pay its own bills, amount of federal support

This story was written and produced by NJ Spotlight. It is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. To read more, visit njspotlight.com.

Full story link – HERE.

By John Reitmeyer

A final decision is still pending, but it sounds like Gov. Phil Murphy may soon be granting New Jersey taxpayers a temporary reprieve from next month’s fast-approaching deadline to file state income taxes.

Over a week ago, state lawmakers sent the governor bipartisan legislation that would put off the April 15 deadline for both filing state income taxes and making payments to settle any tax obligations they still owe, citing concerns about the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic as a reason to provide more time this year.

That’s something President Donald Trump’s administration has already done at the federal level as many Americans have lost their jobs or have faced other hardships caused by the pandemic. The new deadline for filing federal income taxes and making payments is July 15.

But Murphy has yet to take similar action at the state level, sowing some confusion among taxpayers as the April 15 deadline — at least for state income taxes — draws nearer.

When a reporter asked Murphy about the issue on Thursday during the governor’s daily press briefing on the state’s ongoing response to the pandemic, Murphy said he will “almost certainly” be granting state taxpayers an extension. But he stopped short of saying how soon there will be an announcement, and exactly how long of a delay will be granted.

‘Trying to figure out where to land’

“We’re just trying to figure out where to land,” Murphy said. “There are a number of moving parts associated with it.”

One of the moving parts the governor was likely referring to was exactly how to delay the collection of state income-tax payments without making it impossible for state government to pay its own bills — especially since the income tax is the state budget’s largest single source of tax revenue. The fate and size of any federal support for the state budget that would come from a massive relief package moving through the U.S. Congress this week is also another important factor.

Among the economic-relief bills that state lawmakers rushed to Murphy’s desk last week was the measure calling for an extension of the state deadlines for filing both gross-income and corporate-business taxes. While the legislation was drafted prior to the federal government taking final action, it allowed for the state deadlines to be extended to June 30. That’s an important date for the state budget because it is the last day of New Jersey’s fiscal year, and the state constitution does not allow for a deficit to be carried forward.

A conditional veto

But in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to move the federal deadline all the way back to July 15, most tax filers and accountants would probably like to see the governor issue a conditional veto or some other executive action to make the state’s deadline line up with the federal cutoff.

“Needless to say, it is a big concern for our members,” said Ralph Albert Thomas, the executive director and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, during an interview with NJ Spotlight.

In addition to simplifying the tax-filing process, many have also suggested a longer extension could help lessen the burden for those struggling with serious illness, a job loss, or some other difficult situation that has put a strain on their personal finances.

New Jersey has reported a total of 6,876 positive cases of COVID-19, as of Thursday’s press briefing, making the state one of the hardest hit so far. The state also processed a record-high 155,815 new claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That surge in jobless claims comes as Murphy has enacted a series of social-distancing measures in recent weeks that are designed to slow down the spread of COVID-19 infections, including the closure of all nonessential businesses indefinitely.

“People are trying to prioritize what do I pay when I’m sitting on the sidelines,” said Thomas, whose organization is seeking an extension of the state deadline to July 15.

“Having the additional time would give folks some breathing room,” he said.

April 15 is fast approaching

Meanwhile, several Republican lawmakers have been raising concerns about the governor’s delay in action, noting the April 15 filing deadline is now just a few weeks away.

“Extending the state deadline gives filers more time to complete their returns, and more importantly, it provides additional time for those that will have a balance due,” said Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), who was a primary sponsor of the extension bill.

“I call on the governor to announce this filing deadline delay as soon as possible to provide some good financial news for hard-hit New Jerseyans,” said Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Burlington).

But Murphy, a first-term Democrat, suggested during Thursday’s briefing that he wants to see exactly what New Jersey ends up getting in the federal economic-stabilization measure that could get final approval as early as Friday before making a final decision on any state tax-filing extension.

For fiscal year 2020, the governor and lawmakers boosted state budget reserves in the $38.7 billion spending bill that was signed into law last June to over $1 billion. But that still represents a small percentage of overall spending, and it is much less than what many other states had in their reserve balances heading into this potential downturn, according to a recent state-by-state analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

To help provide more of a cushion, the Murphy administration put nearly $1 billion in FY2020 discretionary spending in reserve late last week. But Murphy has also said repeatedly that federal aid will be necessary to help his administration navigate significant revenue losses expected in the final months of the current fiscal year.

“Knowing what’s in the federal bill, and knowing that it’s actually been signed into law, gives us a little bit firmer footing to look at what the next sort of 30 days looks like,” Murphy said on Thursday.

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Amid COVID-19 Crisis, NJ Seeks Pass on Student Test Requirement


Governor also says he is unsure how long schools will remain closed in favor of remote learning

This story was written and produced by NJ Spotlight. It is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. To read more, visit njspotlight.com.

Full story link – HERE.

By John Mooney

Gov. Phil Murphy settled one question Tuesday for New Jersey’s 2,500 public schools and 1.4 million students in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic — but left plenty unanswered.

A week into his full “stay at home” order for New Jersey and its schools, Murphy started his daily COVID-19 press briefing with an announcement that the state would seek a waiver from the federal government on required standardized testing for students this spring, a contentious issue in this state.

Approval is all but assured, as the federal Department of Education has said it would approve the testing waivers for the hardest-hit states. New Jersey has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

“With students at home and not in their regular classrooms, it is simply not feasible for us to be able to move forward with testing in any meaningful way,” Murphy said in Newark.

“The number-one priority is for students to be able to work on the lessons before them and to use the time as best as possible to keep up with their current studies,” the governor continued. “Many parents have moved into a dual role as classroom educator, and it would not be fair for them to also pick up the role of test proctor as well.”

No word on length of closure

But at the same briefing, Murphy continued to hedge on how long schools would remain closed in favor of the remote learning now taking place, in a school year that now has just three months to go. He gave his familiar “until further notice.”

“That’s just not a decision we have made yet,” Murphy said to a question from NJ Spotlight. “I think folks should expect that schools will be closed for a meaningful period of time. That is hardly making news, I know, but when we have a more specific sense, I’ll give it to you.”

And even the long-expected cancellation of state testing raised some questions about what it would mean for students who are required under law to pass the tests for high school graduation come June.

A vast majority of the upcoming graduates are well-through the process at this point. Still, for the rest, Murphy said it would not change current graduation requirements that mandate passing either an 11th grade test or alternative measures, the latter of which take place in school settings. They include achieving certain thresholds on college-prep tests like the SAT or the ACT and a “portfolio appeal” process where a student’s classroom work is taken into consideration.

But when pressed on how that process would happen with schools shut down, Murphy said students wouldn’t be blocked from graduating due to either the changes or the new uncertainty about the end of the school year. Separate state guidance has laid out that the portfolio appeal process should continue.

“We are not going to prevent students from graduating high school due to the decisions we are making about standardized testing or how long schools will be open,” the governor said.

Once the waiver is approved by Washington, Murphy said he would issue an executive order for the one-year suspension and hinted it could involve changes to other education mandates as well. The department said it would also involve the suspension of standardized testing for students with limited English skills and other special needs. The order had yet to be released last night.

Welcome news in some quarters

Even with the lingering questions, Murphy’s announcement of the planned suspension of state testing was welcomed from some school groups, including the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s dominant teachers union that has long been a critic of the testing.

“NJEA supports the decision to eliminate standardized testing this year,“ texted Steve Baker, a spokesperson for the union. “Under these circumstances, there is no way to administer those tests and no justification for losing one minute of available instructional time. We are pleased that the [administration] is pursuing the waiver.”

In what has become an annual ritual that dominates the school day for weeks, the testing would have commenced in earnest in the next month, with exams administered to every student in grades 3-8 in language arts and math and then again in high schools in specific subject areas.

In place now for decades, the statewide exams are developed and administered through the state DOE, but as they are ordered through federal law, cancelling them requires a federal waiver.

But the testing here has been contentious to say the least, with New Jersey among the states that saw open protests several years ago and widespread “opt-outs” by students and their families.

Murphy ran for office on a platform that called for an immediate end to the PARCC testing the state had in place at the time. But that process turned out to be more complicated than maybe had been expected.

The state did technically end PARCC, as other states abandoned it as well. But the same online testing basically remains in place under a different name — Student Learning Assessments. And while the administration has said it plans to seek what it terms as a “next generation of testing,” that request for proposals has still not gone out as of several weeks ago.

 

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Governor Murphy Announces Statewide Stay at Home Order, Closure of All Non-Essential Retail Businesses


To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect the capacity of New Jersey’s health care system for the state’s most vulnerable, Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 107, directing all residents to stay at home until further notice. The order provides for certain exceptions, such as obtaining essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities.

Governor Murphy’s Executive Order further directs the closure of all non-essential retail businesses to the public, with the exceptions of:

• Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
• Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
• Medical supply stores;
• Gas stations;
• Convenience stores;
• Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
• Hardware and home improvement stores;
• Banks and other financial institutions;
• Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
• Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
• Pet stores;
• Liquor stores;
• Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
• Printing and office supply shops;
• Mail and delivery stores.

Nothing in the Order shall limit 1) the provision of health care or medical services; 2) access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; 3) the operations of the media; 4) law enforcement agencies, or 5) the operations of the federal government.

Additionally, the order mandates that all businesses or non-profits, wherever practicable, must accommodate their workforce for telework or work-from-home arrangements. To the extent a business or non-profit has employees that cannot perform their functions via telework or work-from-home arrangements, the business or non-profit should make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.

Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site in order to perform their job duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, IT maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.

Governor Murphy also signed Executive Order No. 108, which invalidates any county or municipal restriction that in any way will or might conflict with any of the provisions of Executive Order No. 107. Municipalities or counties cannot 1) make any additions to or deletions from the list of essential retail businesses; 2) impose any additional limitations on businesses beyond the Governor’s Order; 3) impose any additional density or social distancing requirements; or 4) impose any additional restrictions on freedom of movement. The only exceptions are two categories over which municipalities or counties may impose any additional restrictions: 1) online marketplaces for arranging or offering lodging and 2) municipal or county parks.

Link to article HERE.

NJ Covid19 Information hub can be found here HERE.

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Lawmakers Take Just a Few Days to Deliver Economic-Relief Bills to Murphy


Governor signs first of nearly 30 bills in package, prohibiting evictions and foreclosures, promises swift action on other measures, which include funding for food banks and companies struggling to meet payroll

This story was written and produced by NJ Spotlight. It is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. To read more, visit njspotlight.com.

Full story link – HERE.

By John Reitmeyer

A package of bipartisan economic-relief bills drafted in response to the coronavirus pandemic is now sitting on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk following swift action in the state Senate on Thursday.

The legislation is aimed at, among other things, providing direct help to New Jersey businesses facing revenue losses and employees who may be losing hours or even their jobs because so many companies have been shuttered in recent days due to the growing number of COVID-19 infections.

But one of the measures in the nearly 30-bill package was immediately signed by the governor, establishing a moratorium on any evictions that tenants or homeowners in foreclosure might have faced during the ongoing emergency.

Calling for more federal help

The rapid legislative action — most of the bills passed by the Senate on Thursday had just been introduced on Monday — came as major concerns about the potential economic upheaval led Murphy, a first-term Democrat, to begin calling for economic relief beyond what the federal government has already enacted.

In fact, the entire package was passed by the Senate during an hourlong session that was held — possibly for the first time in the state’s history — inside the Assembly’s chambers. That was done to give lawmakers the ability to maintain “social-distancing” guidelines that help prevent further spread of the virus.

“I’m 60 years old (and) I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) speaking to reporters on a conference call set up after the hearing, again to accommodate growing health concerns.

Meanwhile, news also broke on Thursday that New Jersey Transit, the state’s already-beleaguered mass-transit agency, is seeking a total of $1.25 billion in federal assistance to offset increased costs and a significant loss of revenue from drastically reduced ridership caused by the outbreak.

“Emergency federal funding is required, so that current programs for capital projects and state of good repair funding are not cannibalized, at the expense of system safety and operations,” wrote Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit’s president and chief executive in a letter sent to the entire state congressional delegation that was obtained by NJ Spotlight.

NJ Transit also announced it is scaling back rail service to a weekend schedule on most of its lines starting Friday.

Extending deadline on income-tax payments

Sweeney also raised concerns during his call about the state of the state’s own budget. The current fiscal year runs through June 30. One of the bills that was passed on Thursday would extend the deadline for making gross income-tax payments all the way until the final day of fiscal 2020.

“There’s just a whole lot of things we don’t know right now,” Sweeney said.

Murphy signed an executive order earlier this month that declared a statewide state of emergency to help New Jersey combat the spread of the coronavirus. More than 740 residents have now tested positive for COVID-19, with nine fatalities, according to the latest update provided by the governor and other state officials.

All schools across the state have been closed during the state emergency, and dining-in at all restaurants and bars has been prohibited. Retail shopping malls and indoor amusement centers have also been shut down. Barber shops and hair and nail salons went dark, starting Thursday evening.

Helping NJ companies make payroll

To help offset the economic losses that officials are still trying to quantify, one of the measures passed by lawmakers would make grants available to New Jersey businesses through the state’s Economic Development Authority. The grants could go to businesses for things like “working capital and meeting payroll requirements,” according to the bill.

In addition, lawmakers sent Murphy a measure that would make available $20 million in state funding to help pay hourly workers and other residents who lose wages due to illness or as a result of caring for a family member who is sick or unable to attend school or daycare due to ongoing closures. The funding could also be tapped by employers whose workers are facing quarantine due to the coronavirus, according to the bill.

Another $15 million would be provided to food banks in New Jersey, and the bill package also includes a measure that seeks to give state taxpayers more time to make this year’s gross-income and corporate-business tax payments, mirroring action taken at the federal level in recent days. Although the bill’s language is somewhat confusing, a legislative staffer on Thursday said the intent is to keep the tax-filing deadline at April 15, but to allow tax payments to be pushed to June 30.

And then there’s the bill that Murphy signed into law immediately that permits the governor to establish a moratorium on evictions during a state of emergency.

“This outbreak affects all of us and we are all in this together,” Murphy said in a statement issued as his action on the bill was announced Thursday afternoon.

Speaking about the other bills in the legislative package, nearly 30 in all, Murphy promised they would be “swiftly” reviewed.

In addition to the state action, Murphy said during an earlier press briefing that he is attempting to work with the leaders of other states in the region to encourage President Donald Trump’s administration to quickly release emergency federal aid that has been approved by Congress — in ways that allow flexible spending on the local level.

Using superstorm approach to aid

In recent days, Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver have suggested the federal government should follow a template used in the wake of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, in which much of the local aid flowed through Community Development Block Grants, or CDBGs, administered through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The meter is running and it’s running in a big way,” Murphy said. “We need backend fill from the federal government.”

“I want to pound the table, and the best and most effective way we can stay in the game is to get federal aid,” he said.

As for NJ Transit, the letter that was sent by Corbett to U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez and all 12 of New Jersey’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives said the mass-transit agency has seen a nearly 90% decline in ridership as Murphy and Trump have been urging people to curtail activities in the wake of the outbreak. At the same time, NJ Transit has also taken on unforeseen costs related to the regular cleaning and disinfecting of its equipment.

In addition to its heavy reliance on fares and the state budget, making matters worse for NJ Transit is its longstanding use of diverted funds from capital resources and other pots of money that may also take a big hit in the wake of the outbreak. Transportation advocates have long warned against this practice, which has continued during Murphy’s tenure.

“We are currently looking at efficiencies, however, we cannot overcome the unprecedented financial burden this national emergency has created on our own,” Corbett’s letter said.

Turning to concerns about the state budget, Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio issued a statement late Thursday that pointed to the “unpredictable and rapidly changing” impact of the epidemic as it spreads across the globe. Revenue forecasts for both the remainder of fiscal year 2020 and all of FY2021 were issued just last month, but they already seem likely to need drastic revisions.

“Treasury’s team is monitoring and analyzing the situation around the clock as it unfolds,” Muoio said. “We will continue to provide monthly public revenue updates and we expect to provide a detailed revenue update to the legislative budget committees at some point, as is typical during the budget process.”

“This will certainly require an unprecedented level of cooperation and I know the administration is committed to doing what is best for this state regardless of the hand we are dealt,” she said.

— Lilo H. Stainton and Colleen O’Dea contributed to this story.

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Medical Center Gets $2 million Grant for Violence-Prevention Programs

Medical Center Gets $2 million Grant for Violence-Prevention Programs


Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that the Jersey City Medical Center and eight other hospitals around the state will each receive $2 million in federal funds for violence-intervention efforts.

The grants, issued under  the Victims of Crime Act, will be used to assist hospitals to provide physical and mental health support to crime victims immediately after the violent incident and may include services such as tattoo removal, which could give the victims “literally a clean slate,” Murphy said.    

Murphy announced the grants at a press conference at the Bethune Life Center in Jersey City. Others attending the press conference included former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Grewal said the winning hospitals were selected based in part on their work with local community organizations that fight violence. Such hospital intervention programs have been proven to reduce repeat injuries, he said. The Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition is the local partner in Jersey City.

Often the victims of crimes are also perpetrators or future perpetrators, said Murphy, adding that the programs are designed to assist victims of any type of violence, including domestic abuse. He said New Jersey is the first state to award such grants to hospitals under the Victims of Crime Act. 

In his brief introductory remarks, Fulop noted that he, the governor and Grewal have been spending a lot of time together in the past seven weeks since the tragic shootings on Dec. 11, which took the lives of Detective Joseph Seals and three civilians who were killed at a kosher market. Fulop also noted that while violent crime in the city is down, gun confiscations this month are up significantly. Police have taken 30 guns off the streets so far this month, compared to 10 in January 2019. 

Giffords, who suffered severe head injuries when she was shot while meeting with constituents in her district in Tucson, Ariz., nine years ago this month, spoke briefly but succinctly. “Stopping gun violence takes great courage. Be bold, be courageous. The nation’s counting on you,” she told the audience.

Attendees included numerous local elected officials as well as about 20 women wearing red T-shirts with the words “Moms Demand Action,” the name of a national gun-control group founded in the wake of the shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012. 

The other hospitals receiving the awards are University Hospital in Newark, Trinitas Health Foundation in Elizabeth, St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson, RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick, Capital Health in Trenton, Center for Family Services in Camden, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center, focusing on Asbury Park, Neptune Township and Long Branch. 

The grants will fund the nine sites for a period of 21 months, according to the governor’s office. 

Beside the money dispensed to the hospitals, another $2 million will be used by the state for technical assistance, Grewal said. 

Other speakers at the press conference included Senator Sandra Cunningham of Jersey City and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County.

Header: Photo by Bill Armbruster

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