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Legislators Propose 'Tax Credit for Tolls' Law

Measure aimed at staving off 'relentless' toll increases, assemblyman says

A group of Ocean County state legislators have proposed a bill that would allow commuters to claim a tax credit if they spend $1,000 or more on highway tolls per year.

Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (all R-10) proposed the bill in their respective chambers Tuesday. If it becomes law, commuters would be able to receive a $1,000 state income tax credit if their E-ZPass toll accounts register $1,000 or more in toll payments in a given year.

Holzapfel said the law is aimed at providing relief for commuters who have seen "relentless" toll increases in recent years.

"By providing commuters with a means to offset a portion of their commuting costs, our bill recognizes that these taxpayers are paying more than their fair share for transportation and economic development projects, while encouraging commuters to use E-ZPass," Holzapfel said in a statement.

Toll prices on the state's highways have risen approximately 90 percent since 2008, when the New Jersey Turnpike Authority adopted a two-phase rate hike plan. The plan was approved, and the first phase implemented, by the administration of former Gov. Jon Corzine. The most recent phase was implemented Jan. 1, 2012, under the administration of Gov. Chris Christie, sparking a debate between Republicans and Democrats over who was to blame for the increase.

Wolfe said he opposed the plan in 2008, and ever since then, highway maintenance funds generated by tolls have been diverted from the Shore area to transportation and development projects in other parts of New Jersey.

"Our constituents... who make up a large portion of toll-paying commuters in the state, deserve tax relief for shouldering the burden of funding transportation projects across New Jersey," he said.

The average passenger toll on the New Jersey Turnpike now stands at $3.30, with the average Garden State Parkway toll adding up to $1.05.

Sarah Flode May 16, 2012 at 09:45 PM
So to clarify what I've read here, would the tax credit only apply to those on the Turnpike and Parkway? Also, @porter, the 5th day is definitely not free any more. It sure would be nice for those of us who do it. It's quite the rub to pay $100 to go to work every month.
Sean McCullen May 16, 2012 at 09:52 PM
My girlfriend lives in Brooklyn. I take the Turnpike from exit 7 to exit 10, then use Outerbridge Crossing to get into Staten Island and the Verrazano to get into Brooklyn. It costs me about $24 round trip every time I visit her up there (2 or 3 weekends a month), and that's with the EZ Pass discount, which makes Outerbridge only $9.50 and the Verrazano only $9.60. Cash tolls are $12 and $13, respectively. It's disgusting. As I understand it, these tolls will NOT be included.
Porterincollingswood May 16, 2012 at 10:27 PM
There was some kind of commuter discount, can't recall what it was.
Porterincollingswood May 16, 2012 at 10:31 PM
PS - Paul I think you are right. A 'credit' implies the money goes against the liability. A 'deduction' would just go against the taxable income. But I find it hard to believe they are going to essentially credit back $1000 (200 days) worth of tolls. But a $1000 deduction is what - $35? Seems too low.
Townie May 16, 2012 at 10:35 PM
This is pandering for votes....and foolish in its lack of consideration. We build infrastructure and policy to help relieve congestion (like secaucus station and NJ Transit improvements) and help the environment while reducing dependence on oil). Then people complain that the tolls are too high (maybe they should be higher if we believe in our policies), so we complicate an already silly tax process by giving them credit for easy pass payments in their tax returns (no possible fraud in that). Gas and tolls are cheap compared to many European locations. Now that driving is more expensive the taxpayers shouldn't underwrite people's personal decisions to live and work far apart....or go see their family, girlfriends, etc.

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