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Mazzeo Bill to Help NJ Farmers Offset Business Expenses, Create Housing for Farm Workers Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo to help New Jersey farmers offset the costs of doing business, and create needed housing for farm workers by providing farmers a tax incentive to build worker housing.

“Farming is an expensive business,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This bill can help New Jersey farmers offset the rising cost of doing business and create needed housing for farm workers by giving farmers an incentive to build it. With the help of these credits, farmers can build new housing or rehabilitate existing housing to meet the needs of their workers and improve their bottom lines.”

The bill (A-4492) would establish credits against the corporation business and gross income taxes for qualified farmers who develop housing for their agricultural workforce in the state. The amount of the available credit is 50 percent of the approved qualified costs incurred and paid by the farmer to construct, install, acquire or rehabilitate the housing.

A farmer intending to claim the credit must apply to the commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Once the commissioner approves the estimate of qualified costs, a farmer may claim a portion of the available credit for the taxable year or privilege period in which the housing is completed, and in any of the nine subsequent taxable years or privilege periods, subject to the provisions of the bill. No more than 20 percent of the total credit may be claimed in any one taxable year or privilege period. The agricultural workforce housing must continue to be used as agricultural workforce housing during any taxable year or privilege period for which the credit is claimed.

Under the bill, qualified costs include the costs of acquisition, finance, construction, installation, materials, permits and capital expenditures for rehabilitation. The costs of purchasing the land where the housing is being built, routine maintenance expenses and reserves are not included.

The bill defines agricultural workforce housing as housing that complies with all applicable laws, regulations, requirements and standards, and is exclusively occupied seasonally or permanently by agricultural workers or farm employees and their immediate families, regardless of whether rent is paid or not. Agricultural workers are defined as those who, for compensation, work on a temporary or permanent basis, in the production, processing, planting, cultivating, handling, or harvesting of agricultural or horticultural crops or products.

“Adequate housing can be hard to come by for farm workers, especially seasonal workers” added Mazzeo. “This not only helps workers and their families by creating more housing opportunities, but our farmers and the state’s agricultural industry by providing a stable agricultural workforce.”

The bill also contains provisions aimed at preventing misuse of the credit and provides for disallowance, or recapture of a credit previously allowed, in certain circumstances.

The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.