Sept. 15, 2014
The Honorable Chris Christie
Governor of New Jersey
State House
Trenton, NJ 08625

Gov. Christie,

We are encouraged by recent movements by the state Legislature calling for the elimination of the New Jersey estate and inheritance taxes. This change is much-needed relief for small business owners and individuals in New Jersey who are currently forced to grapple with the most burdensome state death taxes in the country.  While other proposed reforms are a step in the right direction, New Jersey would be best served by full repeal of the estate and inheritance taxes.

Simply put: death should not be a taxable event. It makes no sense to force a grieving family to pay a tax on their loved one’s property. New Jersey is currently one of only 19 states that impose an additional tax at death, and only one of two to impose both an estate and inheritance tax. Forbes recently listed New Jersey as a place “Not to Die” in 2014 because of its high death tax. New Jersey’s low estate-tax exemption of $675,000 and high rate of 16 percent make it the most confiscatory estate tax in the entire country. In New Jersey, even a middle-income family with a modest home and retirement savings can easily surpass the $675,000 exemption. In recent years, increasing home prices have lead to one in five single-family home sales greater than $500,000.

A New Jersey resident could easily move to any of the 32 states that don’t tax death to avoid a state death tax altogether. From 2001-2010, $13 billion in annual gross income has left New Jersey, according to data from the non-partisan Tax Foundation.  Recent studies in North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Connecticut and other states all show that the death tax discourages business expansion and drives productive tax payers out of states with death taxes. Florida, a state with no death tax and a constitutional ban on enacting estate taxes, has been the largest beneficiary of out-migration from high death-tax states.

Proposing repeal of the estate and inheritance tax comes at a critical time, as states have been moving quickly in recent years to eliminate or reduce the burden of their death taxes. In the past four years, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee have all eliminated their state death taxes. Additionally this year, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island have increased their state estate tax exemptions.

Repeal of New Jersey’s estate and inheritance taxes is a common-sense improvement that will help grow New Jersey’s economy by keeping business owners, workers and retirees in the state. We look forward to working with you this fall to see this important policy change through.


Jim Martin
60 Plus Association

Daryn Iwicki
State Director
Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey

Jim Rowland
Executive Vice President
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director
New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association

Patrick A. Stewart
Associated Builders and Contractors – New Jersey Chapter

Douglas K. Woods
AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Laurie Ehlbeck
State Director
NFIB – New Jersey Chapter

Anthony Russo
Executive Vice President – Government Affairs & Communications
Commerce and Industry Association New Jersey

Jeff Kaszerman
Director – Government Relations
CPA Society of New Jersey

Ed Orlet
Vice President of Government Affairs
National Association of Electrical Distributors

Jonathan Melchi
Director of Government Affairs
Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI)

Dan Hilton
Director of Government Relations
American Supply Association

Kirk McCauley
Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades (SSDA-AT)

Daniel Fisher
Vice President Legislative Affairs
Aeronautical Repair Station Association

Christian A. Klein
Vice President of Government Affairs
Associated Equipment Distributors

Marta Gates
Director of Operations
WMDA Service Station & Automotive Repair Association

J. Barry Epperson
General Counsel
Associated Wire Rope Fabricators

Scott Jones
Forest Landowners Association

Roy Littlefield
Executive Vice President
The Tire Industry Association

Paul Fiore
Director, Government Affairs
Autocare Association

Rob Underwood
Manager of Congressional Relations
The Petroleum Marketers Association of America

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Brandon Arnold
Vice President of Government Affairs
National Taxpayers Union

Phil Kerpen
American Commitment

Andrew Moylan
Senior Fellow
R Street Institute

John Berlau
Senior Fellow for Finance and Access to Capital
Competitive Enterprise Institute

John Tate
Campaign for Liberty

Palmer Schoening
Executive Director
Family Business Coalition