Bill Text: NJ S3387 | 2016-2017 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: "Voluntary Employment for Taxpayers Act"; permits certain local governments to recruit residents to perform services in return for property tax credits.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2017-06-29 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee [S3387 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2016-S3387-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 3387

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 29, 2017

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ANTHONY R. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     "Voluntary Employment for Taxpayers Act"; permits certain local governments to recruit residents to perform services in return for property tax credits.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning property tax credits for certain volunteer work, supplementing chapter 4 of Title 54 of the Revised Statutes, and amending R.S.43:21-5.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) Sections 1 through 11 of P.L.   , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be known and may be cited as the "Voluntary Employment for Taxpayers Act."

 

     2.    (New section) The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     Property taxes remain one of the highest single expenses for State residents and are especially burdensome for seniors on fixed incomes, single-income families, and families with children in private schools or colleges.

     b.    It is in the public interest to utilize the part-time talent and skills of State residents to help in the functioning of local government because that would get more people involved with their governments and could lower property taxes by reducing the need for full-time employees.

     c.     Many State residents would be motivated to volunteer their services for their municipality, county, or school district if, in return, their property tax liabilities could be reduced.

 

     3.    (New section) The governing body of a municipality, county, school district, or fire district, may, by ordinance or resolution, as appropriate, establish a program permitting certain residents of the applicable jurisdiction to perform volunteer services deemed necessary by the governing body for the jurisdiction.

 

     4.    (New section) To qualify for participation in a program established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a person shall be a bona fide resident of the applicable municipality, county, school district, or fire district.  In selecting volunteers, the applicable jurisdiction shall consider a qualified applicant's skills, work experience, competency, and physical ability to perform the required duties.

 

     5.    (New section) A volunteer may provide any task deemed necessary by the governing body of the municipality, county, school district, or fire district, provided that the job duties do not require certification from the State, which such volunteer does not possess, and do not conflict with either State or federal law.

     6.    (New section) A volunteer who performs services for a municipality, county, school district, or fire district may receive compensation payable in the form of a voucher which shall be used as a credit to offset the property taxes due on the residence of the volunteer within the applicable jurisdiction.  A credit shall not be applied toward property taxes which become payable in a year succeeding the year in which the voucher is earned.

     For the purposes of this section, "property taxes due" means taxes duly assessed against the property, including any amounts due representing interest or penalties, and any amounts for which redemption payments may be made pursuant to Title 54 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     7.    (New section) Beyond the property tax credit provided for in P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a volunteer shall not be entitled to any benefits or compensation as a result of any work performed under a program, and shall not obtain classified status pursuant to Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes.  A volunteer also shall not be entitled to seek workers' compensation benefits and a volunteer may not commence any action under any New Jersey statute, or the common law, for damages arising out of such volunteer's service.  A volunteer shall be irrebuttably presumed to have assumed all risks attendant to the position and to have waived the right to seek damages from the governmental entity for which such volunteer performs services.

 

     8.    (New section) A volunteer shall be awarded a property tax credit in an amount determined by the governing body of the applicable jurisdiction, limited to the amount of property taxes attributable to the share of property taxes assessed against the volunteer's principal residence by that applicable jurisdiction.

 

     9.    (New section) A program established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) may be used to help a volunteer whose property taxes are delinquent and against whose property a foreclosure of a tax sale certificate has been initiated.

 

     10.  (New section) The credit attributable to volunteer services shall be available only against the amount owed on the principal residence of the volunteer to the jurisdiction awarding the credit; provided, however, that no such property tax credit shall be available unless the volunteer is a title owner of the premises, or related by blood or marriage to the owner of the residence.  If the property in which the volunteer principally resides is other than a single family home, only that portion of the premises in which the volunteer actually resides shall be eligible for a credit.

     11.  (New section) Gross income, for the purposes of the "New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act," P.L.1976, c.47 (C.54A:1-1 et seq.), shall not include those amounts that were contributed by a municipality, county, school district, or fire district on behalf of a volunteer pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     12.  R.S.43:21-5 is amended to read as follows:

     43:21-5.  An individual shall be disqualified for benefits:

     (a)   For the week in which the individual has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work, and for each week thereafter until the individual becomes reemployed and works eight weeks in employment, which may include employment for the federal government, and has earned in employment at least ten times the individual's weekly benefit rate, as determined in each case. This subsection shall apply to any individual seeking unemployment benefits on the basis of employment in the production and harvesting of agricultural crops, including any individual who was employed in the production and harvesting of agricultural crops on a contract basis and who has refused an offer of continuing work with that employer following the completion of the minimum period of work required to fulfill the contract.  This subsection shall not apply to an individual who voluntarily leaves work with one employer to accept from another employer employment which commences not more than seven days after the individual leaves employment with the first employer, if the employment with the second employer has weekly hours or pay not less than the hours or pay of the employment of the first employer, except that if the individual gives notice to the first employer that the individual will leave employment on a specified date and the first employer terminates the individual before that date, the seven-day period will commence from the specified date.

     (b)   For the week in which the individual has been suspended or discharged for misconduct connected with the work, and for the seven weeks which immediately follow that week, as determined in each case.

     For the week in which the individual has been suspended or discharged for severe misconduct connected with the work, and for each week thereafter until the individual becomes reemployed and works four weeks in employment, which may include employment for the federal government, and has earned in employment at least six times the individual's weekly benefit rate, as determined in each case. Examples of severe misconduct include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: repeated violations of an employer's rule or policy, repeated lateness or absences after a written warning by an employer, falsification of records, physical assault or threats that do not constitute gross misconduct as defined in this section, misuse of benefits, misuse of sick time, abuse of leave, theft of company property, excessive use of intoxicants or drugs on work premises, theft of time, or where the behavior is malicious and deliberate but is not considered gross misconduct as defined in this section.

     In the event the discharge should be rescinded by the employer voluntarily or as a result of mediation or arbitration, this subsection (b) shall not apply, provided, however, an individual who is restored to employment with back pay shall return any benefits received under this chapter for any week of unemployment for which the individual is subsequently compensated by the employer.

     If the discharge was for gross misconduct connected with the work because of the commission of an act punishable as a crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree under the "New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice," N.J.S.2C:1-1 et seq., the individual shall be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification prescribed in subsection (a) of this section and no benefit rights shall accrue to any individual based upon wages from that employer for services rendered prior to the day upon which the individual was discharged.

     The director shall insure that any appeal of a determination holding the individual disqualified for gross misconduct in connection with the work shall be expeditiously processed by the appeal tribunal.

     (c)   If it is found that the individual has failed, without good cause, either to apply for available, suitable work when so directed by the employment office or the director or to accept suitable work when it is offered, or to return to the individual's customary self-employment (if any) when so directed by the director. The disqualification shall continue for the week in which the failure occurred and for the three weeks which immediately follow that week, as determined:

     (1)   In determining whether or not any work is suitable for an individual, consideration shall be given to the degree of risk involved to health, safety, and morals, the individual's physical fitness and prior training, experience and prior earnings, the individual's length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in the individual's customary occupation, and the distance of the available work from the individual's residence. In the case of work in the production and harvesting of agricultural crops, the work shall be deemed to be suitable without regard to the distance of the available work from the individual's residence if all costs of transportation are provided to the individual and the terms and conditions of hire are as favorable or more favorable to the individual as the terms and conditions of the individual's base year employment.

     (2)   Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, no work shall be deemed suitable and benefits shall not be denied under this chapter to any otherwise eligible individual for refusing to accept new work under any of the following conditions: the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute; the remuneration, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality; or, the individual, as a condition of being employed, would be required to join a company union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization.

     (d)   If it is found that this unemployment is due to a stoppage of work which exists because of a labor dispute at the factory, establishment or other premises at which the individual is or was last employed.

     (1)   No disqualification under this subsection (d) shall apply if it is shown that:

     (a)   The individual is not participating in or financing or directly interested in the labor dispute which caused the stoppage of work; and

     (b)   The individual does not belong to a grade or class of workers of which, immediately before the commencement of the stoppage, there were members employed at the premises at which the stoppage occurs, any of whom are participating in or financing or directly interested in the dispute; provided that if in any case in which (a) or (b) above applies, separate branches of work which are commonly conducted as separate businesses in separate premises are conducted in separate departments of the same premises, each department shall, for the purpose of this subsection, be deemed to be a separate factory, establishment, or other premises.

     (2)   For any claim for a period of unemployment commencing on or after December 1, 2004, no disqualification under this subsection (d) shall apply if it is shown that the individual has been prevented from working by the employer, even though the individual's recognized or certified majority representative has directed the employees in the individual's collective bargaining unit to work under the preexisting terms and conditions of employment, and the employees had not engaged in a strike immediately before being prevented from working.

     (e)   For any week with respect to which the individual is receiving or has received remuneration in lieu of notice.

     (f)   For any week with respect to which or a part of which the individual has received or is seeking unemployment benefits under an unemployment compensation law of any other state or of the United States; provided that if the appropriate agency of the other state or of the United States finally determines that the individual is not entitled to unemployment benefits, this disqualification shall not apply.

     (g)   (1)  For a period of one year from the date of the discovery by the division of the illegal receipt or attempted receipt of benefits contrary to the provisions of this chapter, as the result of any false or fraudulent representation; provided that any disqualification may be appealed in the same manner as any other disqualification imposed hereunder; and provided further that a conviction in the courts of this State arising out of the illegal receipt or attempted receipt of these benefits in any proceeding instituted against the individual under the provisions of this chapter or any other law of this State shall be conclusive upon the appeals tribunal and the board of review.

     (2)   A disqualification under this subsection shall not preclude the prosecution of any civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding to enforce other provisions of this chapter for the assessment and collection of penalties or the refund of any amounts collected as benefits under the provisions of R.S.43:21-16, or to enforce any other law, where an individual obtains or attempts to obtain by theft or robbery or false statements or representations any money from any fund created or established under this chapter or any negotiable or nonnegotiable instrument for the payment of money from these funds, or to recover money erroneously or illegally obtained by an individual from any fund created or established under this chapter.

     (h)   (1)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter (R.S.43:21-1 et seq.), no otherwise eligible individual shall be denied benefits for any week because the individual is in training approved under section 236(a)(1) of the "Trade Act of 1974," Pub.L.93-618 (19 U.S.C. s.2296 (a)(1)) nor shall the individual be denied benefits by reason of leaving work to enter this training, provided the work left is not suitable employment, or because of the application to any week in training of provisions in this chapter (R.S.43:21-1 et seq.), or any applicable federal unemployment compensation law, relating to availability for work, active search for work, or refusal to accept work.

     (2)   For purposes of this subsection (h), the term "suitable" employment means, with respect to an individual, work of a substantially equal or higher skill level than the individual's past adversely affected employment, as defined for purposes of the "Trade Act of 1974," Pub.L.93-618 (19 U.S.C. s.2101 et seq.) and wages for this work at not less than 80% of the individual's average weekly wage, as determined for the purposes of the "Trade Act of 1974."

     (i)    For benefit years commencing after June 30, 1984, for any week in which the individual is a student in full attendance at, or on vacation from, an educational institution, as defined in subsection (y) of R.S.43:21-19; except that this subsection shall not apply to any individual attending a training program approved by the division to enhance the individual's employment opportunities, as defined under subsection (c) of R.S.43:21-4; nor shall this subsection apply to any individual who, during the individual's base year, earned sufficient wages, as defined under subsection (e) of R.S.43:21-4, while attending an educational institution during periods other than established and customary vacation periods or holiday recesses at the educational institution, to establish a claim for benefits. For purposes of this subsection, an individual shall be treated as a full-time student for any period:

     (1)   During which the individual is enrolled as a full-time student at an educational institution, or

     (2)   Which is between academic years or terms, if the individual was enrolled as a full-time student at an educational institution for the immediately preceding academic year or term.

     (j)    Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter (R.S.43:21-1 et seq.), no otherwise eligible individual shall be denied benefits because the individual left work or was discharged due to circumstances resulting from the individual being a victim of domestic violence as defined in section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19). No employer's account shall be charged for the payment of benefits to an individual who left work due to circumstances resulting from the individual being a victim of domestic violence.

     For the purposes of this subsection (j), the individual shall be treated as being a victim of domestic violence if the individual provides one or more of the following:

     (1)   A restraining order or other documentation of equitable relief issued by a court of competent jurisdiction;

     (2)   A police record documenting the domestic violence;

     (3)   Documentation that the perpetrator of the domestic violence has been convicted of one or more of the offenses enumerated in section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19);

     (4)   Medical documentation of the domestic violence;

     (5)   Certification from a certified Domestic Violence Specialist or the director of a designated domestic violence agency that the individual is a victim of domestic violence; or

     (6)   Other documentation or certification of the domestic violence provided by a social worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker or other professional who has assisted the individual in dealing with the domestic violence.

     For the purposes of this subsection (j):

     "Certified Domestic Violence Specialist" means a person who has fulfilled the requirements of certification as a Domestic Violence Specialist established by the New Jersey Association of Domestic Violence Professionals; and "designated domestic violence agency" means a county-wide organization with a primary purpose to provide services to victims of domestic violence, and which provides services that conform to the core domestic violence services profile as defined by the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families and is under contract with the division for the express purpose of providing such services.

     (k)   Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter (R.S.43:21-1 et seq.), no otherwise eligible individual shall be denied benefits for any week in which the individual left work voluntarily and without good cause attributable to the work, if the individual left work to accompany his or her spouse who is an active member of the United States Armed Forces, as defined in N.J.S.38A:1-1(g), to a new place of residence outside the State, due to the armed forces member's transfer to a new assignment in a different geographical location outside the State, and the individual moves to the new place of residence not more than nine months after the spouse is transferred, and upon arrival at the new place of residence the individual was in all respects available for suitable work. No employer's account shall be charged for the payment of benefits to an individual who left work under the circumstances contained in this subsection (k), except that this shall not be construed as relieving the State of New Jersey and any other governmental entity or instrumentality or nonprofit organization electing or required to make payments in lieu of contributions from its responsibility to make all benefit payments otherwise required by law and from being charged for those benefits as otherwise required by law.

     (l)    For work performed as a volunteer pursuant to sections 1 through 11 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

(cf: P.L.2015, c.41, s.1)

 

     13.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would permit a municipality, county, school district, or fire district to establish a program allowing residents thereof to perform volunteer services for that unit of local government.  In return for the services provided, the volunteer would receive a credit towards their property tax liability owed to that unit of local government.  The credit could be used toward current or back taxes owed, but not for prospective taxes.

     The volunteer would perform any services deemed necessary by the governing body of a participating local government for an amount determined by the governing body, up to the amount owed to the particular taxing jurisdiction granting the property tax credit.  No other form of compensation may be provided to the volunteer, including awarding civil service credits to the volunteer.  The bill exempts from gross income for gross income tax purposes the amounts contributed by a local government on behalf of a volunteer as credits to offset property taxes.

     Any resident of the community would be permitted to apply to participate in a program established under the bill.  A participating local government may consider such factors as education, job skills, competency, and physical ability to perform the required task when evaluating and selecting applicants.  A volunteer may not fill a position requiring certification by the State unless the volunteer possesses the requisite certification.

     This proposal recognizes that volunteers can perform services for which a participating local government might otherwise be required to hire paid personnel to undertake, at great expense, which would increase already astronomical property tax bills.  The bill entrusts the governing bodies of participating local governments with determining which services merit property tax credits, and the amounts thereof.  It further exempts these local governments from the liabilities attendant to such services by precluding any volunteer from bringing any civil action whatsoever, for whatever reason, against the participating local government.

feedback