The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented job loss throughout the state, resulting in more than 1.7 million New Jersey residents filing for unemployment benefits since March. In recognition of the financial hardship many residents are facing, three Assembly Democrats sponsor legislation to waive the shared responsibility tax for certain residents.
Taxpayers are usually assessed the shared responsibility tax if they do not have health coverage or an approved exemption, as part of the state’s implementation of healthcare policies mirroring the original Affordable Care Act.
Under the bill (A-4807), any taxpayer receiving unemployment benefits or experiencing a substantial loss of income would not have to pay the tax during the COVID-19 public health emergency during any month in which those qualifications apply.
The measure was based on recommendations from the coronavirus recovery Economic Advisory Council, established by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, whose mission was to provide ideas to the State Legislature to help with New Jersey’s COVID-19 recovery.
Upon the legislation being passed by the full Assembly Thursday, 72-0-0, Assembly sponsors John Armato (D-Atlantic), Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) issued the following joint statement:
“With an average of 20,000 to 30,000 New Jerseyans filing a new unemployment claim every week and thousands more continuing to receive unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, we cannot ignore the economic hardship this pandemic has imposed on our residents.
“Not only does losing one’s job mean losing a steady income, but it often means losing one’s health insurance as well. The current economic crisis limiting job opportunities means that many individuals are simply unable to acquire employer-provided insurance or afford any other insurance plan right now. We need to recognize that conundrum and waive this fee for eligible residents during the ongoing public health emergency.”