September 26, 2023

CultureLimited Government

A Tax Holiday Down the Shore

By: Grant Van Eck

As a fan of Monty Python sketch comedy, I have always enjoyed the variation in lexis between American and British English. For instance, I like  how it’s commonplace in United Kingdom to refer to a break from work for leisure as a “holiday.” It always sounded more delightful to my ears than the word vacation. My favorite holiday is time at the beach with my family; nothing better. Time just seems to work differently on the sand and in that salt water with the people you love. 

New Jersey’s linguistic regionalism refers to going to beaches along our beautiful coastline (regardless of which direction you are driving there from) as, “going down the shore.” Not as pleasant to the ears, even when said in a British accent. But fuhgettaboutit, that’s just how we talk over here. 

A week in Long Beach Island, a few nights in Manasquan, sprinkle in weekend day trips to soak up some rays on one of those top 10 picturesque summer days where you toss aside household chores, and once you are there, don’t regret the impulsiveness for a second. The memories made with my family in Summer 2023 were magical. 

Nights are getting cooler, the auburn colors are creeping in on the leaves here in the northeast, a brutal season for my Yankees is finally wrapping up, and my kids Catholic School just had back to school night. Fall is here, I write this on September 23rd, Autumn’s first official day in the year of our Lord 2023. 

Jersians did get to squeeze in one last special Summer Holiday. A short vacation from getting taxed on the dollars they spend on certain items. Yipee! The wise elites in Trenton, our State Capital have given the taxpayer’s dollars, which they have already taxed once, a sort of beach vacation. This is the big Sales Tax Holiday in New Jersey for school supplies, electronics, and sports or recreation equipment. It’s like that 6.625 % they charge us to spend our money on these essential items can go down the shore instead of down the government sewer and into the cistern of our state’s general fund.

The professional political class and those who run the public education fiefdom are always going off on how much they care about learning, shaping young minds. Preaching on how important sports programs are and building up healthy strong children. I would like to believe them and will graciously give the benefit of the doubt this time. So this is good news, we know that they are sincere and our politicians keep the promises they make during campaigns about doing everything they can for working families. 

I propose to that remarkable collection of brilliant minds who serve in the halls of our state capital and adjoining administrative offices to give their sales tax paying citizens a permanent holiday. Stretch out the trip to Cape May that you gave our hard earned money from August 26th – September 4th another three hundred and fifty five days. 

For argument’s sake, an average family spends nine hundred dollars, and almost fourteen hundred for college students, just on back to school supplies, although in my personal experience it is far greater. This proposed tax break would save a family almost sixty dollars and that college student ninety three dollars a year which they can then do with whatever they like. It was their money in the first place. 

It is also widely known that teachers spend around the same amount annually out of their own pocket on supplies for their classroom. Now everyone knows, even the sparrows, that this next statement is a straight fact. Our elected representation cares deeply about the needs of our government employed educators; the esteemed members of the premier labor union, the New Jersey Education Association or NJEA. Those loyal dues paying teachers would personally benefit from the tax break. Who knows, they might even give that savings over to the NJEA for all of that tremendous work they are doing. 

Stay with me here, and let’s go with one more example. Again, from my experience it is much more, just ask anyone who has a daughter in dance, but an average family spends roughly fifteen hundred dollars a year on sports apparel and recreation equipment. That would be another hundred of their own post-tax income banked if this sales tax was removed permentently. I have heard from people that ten percent of their annual income is spent just on their kids’ sports and activities. This could potentially be even greater relief to those families with children participating in a multitude of activities every season. Which truly is the norm for this upcoming young generation. For larger families like my own with four or more children that have diverse individual interests, this kind of tax cut will make a real financial difference.  

Think of the positive economic impact not just on families who will have less money stolen from them via taxation but the businesses that provide the valuable service of supplying these items. The entrepreneurs and franchisees that employ our friends and neighbors. They provide first time jobs to high schoolers and summer work for college students, just to name two of the many demographic groups employed by local businesses. Those life skills learned at these businesses by generations of young people growing up in the neighborhood become history, stories to reminisce about. Businesses are part of the cultural fabric of a community, and are often the first to donate or sponsor local causes. 

These same businesses pay rent and occupy main street storefronts. There are too many blighted areas and vacant windows dotted across our state because of the awful tax policies put in place by the political elites and their counterparts. I think of the small local shops like the one my wife took our daughter to for tap and ballet shoes. 

Trips to those stores, interactions with wonderful staff that tell you about how they shopped there as a little girl, are treasured experiences. Stores like this are becoming rare. Not because of spontaneous order arranging it this way or because the mechanisms of creative destruction resulted in some new innovation. Instead it is due to the institutional intelligentsia imposing its crippling economic policies on small businesses. 

Policies which a brief study on the free market and basic economic history would have exposed as nonsense, but maybe our learned leaders missed that day in school and passed by the Thomas Sowell section at the library. Even so, by this point in time these high tax policies have been tested long enough in practice to see how reliably doomed they are. The one consistency in their centralized government driven ‘solutions’ is failure. We don’t need more empty storefronts that will tell stories where we used to work in college and where mother and daughter made sweet memories of shopping for leotards. 

Same deal with the larger box stores, the ones who pay large property tax bills in the central business district or commercial zones in a municipality. I am thinking of a recent easy trip to one of these big chain stores with my son before he started his first day of school.  My boy picked out a nifty navy blue binder and a pack of superhero pencils among other required materials on the list emailed to us by his Principal. Back to school supply lists like this are the standard for parents of school aged children and it is just the beginning of what will be many more lists as the projects, assignments, and donation requests flow in during the year. 

How many vacant lots where big retailers used to be are passed when driving around the Garden State? Too many to count unfortunately. Locations with no prospect of revival. It’s a sad sight. You don’t have to drive far in any direction to see a sun baked cracked up parking lot and deteriorating structure. Those post-apocalyptic landscapes were at one time places where teenagers had their first on-the-books job and nice memories were made with fathers and their sons shopping for really cool back to school gear and awesome sports equipment. 

This reasonable request to remove sales tax on school supplies, electronics, and sports or recreation equipment in New Jersey will not fill every vacant lot, it won’t remove all the for rent signs on strip mall storefronts or totally solve the tight financial situation of working families being taxed into oblivion by the current and former occupants of Drumthwacket. 

Although my name isn’t Nostradamus, I do predict a brighter future for New Jersey residents if taxes like these are eliminated. This certainly would provide much needed and well deserved relief from the punishing tax burden citizens of the garden state are living under, kept in place by their elected representatives in the legislative branch. 

Taxes on essential items like those included in this annual tax holiday must be lifted in order to lift up the people who have been unjustly paying them for far too long. Send a message to every elected official to send this sales tax on crucial items families spend thousands of dollars on, down the shore on an everlasting holiday.