New Jersey billionaires reap record profits while millions lose jobs: report

New Jersey’s wealthiest. Source: Forbes Real Time Billionaires data analyzed by Americans for Tax Fairness and Institute for Policy Studies.

On Thursday August 20th,  a new report, “Pandemic Profiteers: New Jersey’s Corporations and Wealthiest Individuals Reap Billions While Local Communities Suffer,”  was released by the organizations called For the Many Coalition, and Americans for Tax Fairness.

The report analyzes wealth accumulation and profits generated by New Jersey’s wealthiest residents and corporations headquartered or doing business in the Garden State and finds a surge in wealth during the pandemic by New Jersey’s wealthiest.

At the same time, New Jersey is facing unprecedented economic and public health crises as a result of COVID-19. By some estimates, it will take at least $2.8 billion in 2020 and $7.3 billion in 2021 to fill New Jersey’s general fund revenue gap. If these budget gaps aren’t filled, New Jersey residents can expect a spike in public sector unemployment in addition to deep cuts to essential public services like public schools, healthcare, and housing.

On the date of the report release, workers, renters and essential workers and their families rallied at the offices of Freedom Mortgage, a “pandemic profiteer”:  a corporation which reported record earnings in the second quarter of 2020, while also having a long history of violations, including reportedly marketing misleading mortgages to veterans. The protestors call for an end to tax breaks for the wealthiest New Jerseyans and for the state to continue the corporate business tax surcharge. A livestream is available at the For the Many NJ Facebook page.

The report finds that New Jersey’s six billionaires’ net worth skyrocketed during the pandemic. The combined net worth of New Jersey’s billionaires jumped $1.77 billion from mid-March to early August 2020. Still, wealthier New Jerseyans pay less taxes than the middle class.

The report also identified key corporations based in or doing business in New Jersey that have reported increased profits, including Amazon, Walmart, Freedom Mortgages, NRG Energy, Campbell Soup, PSEG, American Water Works.

The report recommends increasing taxes on New Jersey’s wealthiest households and maintaining the 2.5 percent corporate tax surcharge on successful corporations doing business in New Jersey.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the deep inequities that exist in our society,” said Louis Di Paolo, Communications Director for New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “While far too many families struggle to pay rent and put food on the table, a small privileged few are amassing record wealth and profits. To build an economy that works for the many, New Jersey must reform its tax code so the wealthiest among us — including pandemic profiteers — pay their fair share.”

“I lost my job during the pandemic and have not been able to access a penny in aid. I pay my taxes, work hard to support my family, but because of my immigration status, I’m left behind by aid. Corporations like Amazon are reaping record profits and pay less in taxes than me. That’s just unfair. If New Jersey is going to survive the pandemic, we must cut tax breaks for the wealthy and well connected to fund key programs for families like mine,” said Linda Fernandez of Make the Road New Jersey, who joined the protest. 

“At New Jersey Citizen Action we work every day with homeowners who struggle to pay their mortgages and keep their houses as the pandemic rages on; our state could face 300,000 evictions in the coming months,” said Maura Collinsgru, of New Jersey Citizen Action’s Advocacy Team. “It’s unconscionable that companies who have helped precipitate our eviction crises—both past and present—should be profiting during the pandemic. They should not only be held accountable but made to pay their fair of taxes to put New Jersey on the road to economic recovery. For the sake of New Jerseyans hit hardest by the pandemic we urge our elected leaders to tax those who have benefited most during this crisis, the ultra-rich and the most profitable of corporations.”

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