Senators are offering winter tax breaks for NJ heating fuels

TRENTON – A newly proposed bill would exempt residential natural gas and electric power from sales tax in New Jersey during the winter.

Supporters of the legislation said the bill, S3354, is needed because rate hikes that took effect last month raised the price for some natural gas customers by 25%.

Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, said he “won’t tolerate the state reaping any revenue from the higher prices”.

“The Board of Public Utilities has approved the massive rate hike and the state is unfairly benefiting from high heating bills,” Pennacchio said. “It’s not fair to families who are already struggling in a threatening fiscal environment.”

“Adding sales tax to skyrocketing tax rates rubs salt in the wounds of state residents caught in an economic maelstrom,” said Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth.

Prices are up 24.5% for PSE&G, 22.9% for Elizabethtown Gas, 18.6% for South Jersey Gas and 15.8% for New Jersey Natural Gas.

The Census Bureau estimates that 73 percent of New Jersey homes, more than 2.5 million out of 3.5 million, rely on natural gas supplied by utility companies to heat their homes.

Sixteen percent heat with electricity, around 555,000 households.

Seven percent use heating oil, about 240,000 households, and 2%, about 87,000, use propane or other bottled gas. These fuel sources for heating homes are not taxed.

The most common types of fuel used to heat homes vary in different parts of New Jersey, although in 11 of the 21 counties at least 90% of homes are heated with natural gas or electricity and would benefit from such a winter tax exemption.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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