Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez which would restore the sales tax exemption for grocery stores in Urban Enterprise Zones was advanced from the Senate yesterday.
“For decades, the grocery stores built in urban enterprise zones have been completely exempt from sales and use taxes, allowing them to operate in these areas,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Unfortunately, under the law which renewed the UEZ program last session, that exemption was capped at $100,000, for all businesses located in UEZs including the supermarkets. This legislation will restore that exemption for food stores, reversing this unintended consequence and helping to ensure they can continue to operate in these communities which are often food deserts.”
The bill, S-2791 would exempt groceries stores from the $100,000 cap currently placed on sales and use tax exemptions for businesses operating in urban enterprise zones. There are currently 37 municipalities that are classified as urban enterprise zones, located in 13 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
“Urban areas often lack adequate access to grocery stores,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By providing this sales tax exemption to grocery stores in UEZs, this bill will incentivize more businesses to operate in urban areas, improving access to grocery stores especially in areas near communities which may be a food desert.”
Under the bill, for supermarkets to benefit from the uncapped sales tax exemption they would be required to certify annually that 35 percent of new hires are from a UEZ municipality. They would also have to certify that any new positions were advertised to one stop employment centers or 30 percent hires are a combination of people with disabilities or people who have been unemployed for 3 months.
Currently, supermarkets in food deserts are exempt from the $100,000 cap. This bill would level the playing field and allow supermarkets in UEZ to have the same benefit as they often serve people in food desert communities.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 37-0.