New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
a quarterly focus on the people and the issues that drive New Jersey business 2Q 2011
Steering Into the Next Century Tom Bracken takes the helm of the State Chamber as it moves into its next 100 years
ď ľ Q&A on Page 12
Five Tips for Seeking a Business Loan
How Banking is Going Mobile
Whoâ€™s Scamming the Unemployment Fund
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table of contents
Cover photo: New CEO and president of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce Thomas A. Bracken photographed April 1 in the Chamber’s Trenton headquarters. Photo by: Ric Principato, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
Left: Bracken has been talking up the business community with the Garden State’s movers and shakers, including Gov. Chris Christie. Photo by: New Jersey Alliance for Action
cover 12 The Next 100 Years: Tom Bracken Leads the Charge
Focus on: banking 08 How Banking is Going Mobile 09 Five Tips for Applying for a Business Loan education 11 Training the Unemployed for
features 04 The Recovery is Not Easy,
But N.J. Chamber Members Aren’t Quivering
06 Upcoming Events – The State
Chamber’s Open House
21 Legislative Round-Up 22 News Makers
Jobs That Will Stay
15 Career Change: Going Back to School
accounting 16 How to Avoid State Income Tax Pitfalls 17 Top Tax Deductions for Small Businesses
18 State Treasurer to N.J. Chamber Members:
Income Tax Increase Has No Chance
news 10 Who’s Scamming the N.J. Unemployment Fund? 19 N.J. Chamber Launches Radio Ads Supporting
Christie’s Bid to Lure Illinois Businesses
20 Lt. Gov. Kim Guadango on Making N.J. a
Convenient Place to Run a Business
Message from the Chamber
The Recovery is Not Easy, But N.J. Chamber Members Aren’t Quivering The Great Recession is over, but the recovery has been anything but easy. Business owners are still stinging from two years of plummeting customer spending and severely tightened credit. And while there’s no telling how long the effects of these problems will linger in our minds and on our bottom lines, there are positive signs in New Jersey. The 9.2 percent unemployment rate in April 2011 was down from 9.8 percent during April of 2010. The state added 17,000 jobs between February 2010 and February 2011. And companies like Bayer and Honeywell recently announced they have decided to grow in New Jersey. You can read more about these developments in our article about the state Labor and Workforce Development Department on page 10. More good news: There has been a run of loan refinancing by U.S. corporations at lower interest rates and easier terms in recent weeks, a sign that credit markets are improving. With all this as a backdrop, the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce conducted our spring 2011 Business Climate Survey, and the response from our members suggests things are getting better and there are real reasons to be optimistic. Slightly more than half of the over 100 members who responded to our survey expect an improvement in the state’s economy over the next 12 months, while 38 percent expect conditions to remain the same. Only 8 percent see the economy getting worse over the next 12 months. Further, many New Jersey Chamber members are 4 |
confident about the outlook of their own businesses over the next 12 months. More than half (56 percent) of the respondents said they expect their businesses to see an increase in revenue in 2011. One in four see their increase exceeding five percent. As far as their own businesses’ profitability, half of the respondents see that improving – with 17 percent envisioning profits jumping by more than 5 percent. Interestingly, when asked about revenue and profitability in their industries in general, our members became slightly less bullish – with only one in 10 seeing industry profits increasing by more than 5 percent. Employment is traditionally one of the lagging indicators of economic recovery and that seems to be the case in our survey. About 45 percent of the respondents see no increases in hiring for their industries this calendar year. About 29 percent envision more hiring, while one in four predict less. A couple of other interesting notes: • Six in ten members say the business climate has improved since Gov. Chris Christie took office. About 51 percent say moderately so. • Almost two-thirds of members say they would consider supporting Christie should he decide to run for president, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would only consider supporting him if he first completes his work in New Jesey. For full results of our survey, please visit www.njchamber.com. There you can keep up with chamber news and upcoming events designed to help improve the bottom line of your business. At the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, we believe that when you are doing well, we are doing well. ❖
Thomas A. Bracken President and CEO
Dana Egreczky Senior Vice President, Workforce Development
Michael Egenton Senior Vice President, Environment and Transportation
Ray Zardetto Communications Director
Scott Goldstein Communications Manager and Enterprise Editor
Ric Principato Interactive Designer
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Staff
216 West State Street Trenton, N.J. 08608 Phone: (609) 989-7888 www.njchamber.com
NJCC Board of Director Officers Second Vice Chairman
Dennis M. Bone President Verizon New Jersey Inc.
Ralph Izzo Chair, Environment Coalition Chairman, President and CEO Public Service Enterprise Group
Amy B. Mansue President and CEO Children’s Specialized Hospital
First Vice Chairman
Immediate Past Chairman
Jeffrey C. Scheininger Chair, Health Care Coalition President Flexline/U.S. Brass and Copper Corp.
Howard Cohen, CPA Chairman EisnerAmper LLP
William J. Marino President and CEO Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc.
280 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210 Phone: 617-428-5100 Fax: 617-428-5118 www.thewarrengroup.com Timothy M. Warren Chairman
Timothy M. Warren Jr. CEO & Publisher
David B. Lovins President
Vincent M. Valvo Group Publisher & Editor in Chief
Finance & Administration Jeffrey E. Lewis, Controller / Director of Operations Editorial Christina P. O’Neill Custom Publications Editor
Cassidy Norton Murphy Associate Editor Advertising George Chateauneuf Publishing Division Sales Manager
Stefanie Magner Advertising Account Manager Mona Ashour Advertising Account Manager Emily Torres Advertising, Marketing & Events Coordinator
Design & Production John Bottini Creative Director
Scott Ellison Senior Graphic Designer
Ellie Aliabadi Graphic Designer ©2011 The Warren Group Inc. All rights reserved. The Warren Group is a trademark of The Warren Group Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Advertising, editorial and production inquiries should be directed to: The Warren Group, 280 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210. Call 800-356-8805.
ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 5
Come to the Chamber Open House Join us June 16 for the 14th Annual New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Open House, one of the state’s premier networking events. We will put up a huge white tent in the backyard of our Trenton headquarters – and we will continue celebrating the Chamber’s 100th anniversary. All of our members are invited for this fun and free event, which will include food, live music, drink and, of course, good conversation. Attendees traditionally include government dignitaries. For more information on sponsoring the event, call Michael Egenton at (609) 989-7888. Photos by: Gellman Images
Save these Dates June 16, 2011 The 14th Annual New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Open House 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. N.J. Chamber, Trenton
Sept. 27-28, 2011
New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce Legislative & Business Awards Reception Bally’s Atlantic City
Oct. 25, 2011
Everything Jersey Business Conference & Expo Pines Manor, Edison For info on attending events, go to www.njchamber.com.
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focus on banking
How Banking is Going Mobile By Alicia Brooks Waltman
Tom Townsend has seen the future of banking, and it’s in the palm of his hand. “With Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers, the smart phone is the primary tool for technology and communications,” says Townsend, executive vice president and chief banking officer at Sun National Bank, based in Vineland. That may be why, when bankers are asked about technology, “mobile” is usually the first response.
Tom Townsend Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer Sun National Bank
Denise Kassekert Executive Vice President Beneficial Bank
“Last year, we got out ahead of the curve and were one of the first banks in New Jersey to come out with fully-functional, mobile banking with cell phones,” said Townsend. But the future of mobile goes well beyond looking at your business checking account on your phone, or transferring funds. Townsend and other bankers agreed that the “mobile wallet” is the Next Big Thing. The idea? Customers could use their phones as their wallets, swiping them past a merchant or vendor’s machine to pay for products. This eliminates the need to carry a credit or debit card, or even that old-fashioned notion – cash. This could be done with a barcode found on the back of the phone, said Townsend, which would then require the carrier to enter a personal identification number to safeguard security. It could also be
“The banking industry is in a state of tremendous transition. I don’t think we really have a full idea of where technology is going to take us.” – Denise Kassekert, Executive Vice President, Beneficial Bank
21st Century Banking Mobile Banking: Using a cell phone to track checking accounts and to transfer between accounts. Mobile Wallet: Customers, both business and commercial, use their phones as wallets, swiping them past a merchant’s or vendor’s machine to pay for products. Remote Capture: Installing a scanner in clients’ office so they scan a check and deposit it in their account without leaving the office.
done with a memory card inserted in the phone. “They already have this technology in Europe, and it will be [advanced here] by the Starbucks of the world, and other big retailers,” says Townsend. Bank of America did a market trial of the technology in New York City last fall, and has trials scheduled in San Francisco and Atlanta, according to Tara Murphy Burke, Bank of America’s senior vice president of consumer and small business media relations. In New York, said Burke, 7-Eleven convenience stores, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and some other merchants will participate in the trials. On a larger scale, search engine Google is teaming with MasterCard and Citigroup to embed this technology in its Android phones, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. While mobile wallets may be the future, a less flashy technology development, “remote capture,” is already making a big difference for business clients, according to Ken Orchard, regional president of TriState Capital Bank, which services mostly high netwealth individuals and businesses. “Basically, you’re putting a $1,000 scanner in each clients’ office, and they are able to scan a check and deposit it in their account without going out,” says Orchard, whose office is located in Princeton. Once a check is scanned, it can’t be scanned again, said Orchard, and unlimited amounts of time and resources can be saved by keeping employees in the office rather than on the road to the bank. “Not everyone will be ready to make the full transition to electronic banking,” says Orchard. “Everyone has a different tolerance for technology.” “The banking industry is in a state of tremendous transition,” says Denise Kassekert, executive vice president of Beneficial Bank, which has 28 offices in New Jersey and plans to debut its mobile banking program later this year. “I don’t think we really have a full idea of where technology is going to take us.” However, she adds, “At the end of the day, customers will still want the people-to-people interaction with their bank. They may want to have a conversation with us about how they can do better financially. And we’ll be there to do that.” ❖ Alicia Brooks Waltman is freelance writer.
5 Tips for Applying for a Business Loan By Edward Malandro While a slow economy can make it more challenging for businesses to obtain loans, banks are still lending money. Here are some tips to inEdward Malandro crease your chances: 1. Do your homework. Be prepared to explain how your business has the potential to succeed or already is succeeding; who your competition is; how you plan to build your business; and who your clients are. Know ahead of time how much money you will need and the purpose of your loan(s). 2. Prepare a business plan. Write a detailed business plan that will show a lender exactly how you will operate your business and make it work. A thoughtful, strong plan enhances your credibility. 3. Gather your paperwork. Be prepared to show, on paper, your credit history and at least three years of financial statements from your existing business. For a new business venture, you will need to show projections for future cash flow and budgets and profits, supported by facts. You will also need to be prepared to provide information about company owners or investors; collateral available to secure your loan request; and your business plan. 4. Ask, listen and respond. While your goal is to pitch your business idea to secure a loan, understand that your banker is a knowledgeable counselor who can help you in this process. Prepare a list of questions for the lender, in order to obtain valuable information. For example, you might ask: What types of businesses do you have expertise in and are lending to? How much security is required for a loan? Do you offer Small Business Administration (SBA) loans? 5. Demonstrate that you are serious about your business. Do you have a website that is ready to support customers? Do you have plans for the design of your
retail store or office location? Have you developed products, packaging ideas, marketing initiatives? Do you have clients and colleagues who can demonstrate that your business already has an audience and customer base to get you
off the ground? The more prepared and ready for business you are, the better. ❖ Edward Malandro is executive vice president of consumer banking at Sun National Bank.
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ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 9
focus on news
Labor Department to N.J. Chamber Members: Help Us Fight Unemployment Insurance Fraud By Scott Goldstein
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is diligently investigating unemployment insurance fraud and overpayment that amounted to $60 million in losses last year, Aaron Fichtner, assistant commissioner at the Labor Department, told a group of New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce members on April 13. “We are rooting out as much fraud and mistaken payments as we possibly can,” Fichtner said at a roundtable breakfast in Monroe sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber.“And the cooperation of the business community is important.” He said the Labor Department has hired a former FBI agent to assist in the investigations. Some cases are “fairly sophisticated,” including one involving 100 claimants and PhotoS by: Ric Principato, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce $2.4 million that is now being handled by the state Division of Law and Public Safety, Fichtner said. Other cases involve individuals who continued to receive unemployment benefits even after they started new jobs. “We are upgrading our technology to root out” that problem, Fichtner said. On another note, Fichtner said the state’s employment outlook is improving. The 9.2 percent unemployment rate April was down from 9.8 percent durBottom Left: Aaron Fichtner, assistant commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Department, center, with Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, left, and David Rapuano, partner at the law firm Archer & Greiner.
ing April of 2010. The state added 17,000 jobs between February 2010 and February 2011. And companies like Bayer and Honeywell recently decided to grow in New Jersey. “We are focused on economic development,” he said. “We want to make New Jersey a magnet for top-notch, cutting edge companies.” The Labor Department in 2010 invested $12 million in customized training grants for employees at 400 companies, with employers contributing $17.5 million, according to Fichtner. And it invested another $1 million in literacy training grants to improve basic and computer skills of workers. The Labor Department also is working on ways to better finance the Unemployment Insurance Fund. “We look forward to working closely with the department on reforming the Unemployment Insurance Fund with the goal of restoring it to financial stability,” said Michael Egenton, senior vice president of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce. “We can’t continue to overburden employers with an ever-increasing payroll tax. Business owners need some predictability when budgeting.” ❖ Scott Goldstein is communications manager for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
Training the Unemployed for Jobs That Will Stay By Harold J. Wirths There has been much ado in some states about their methods for getting unemployed people back to work – such as dropping them into temporary, unpaid jobs to gain skills that eventually help them land full-time work. In New Jersey, we are taking a more meaningful approach. Our Department of Labor and Workforce Development is using programs that, in part, link workers to jobs and train them while they are earning a salary, not collecting unemployment. It is part of a strategy to steer people we train into the state’s key industries – such as biotechnology, finance, advanced manufacturing and transportation – which stand to become the future foundation of our state’s economy. Clearly, our training dollars are best spent if we prepare people for jobs that will be available for years, not temporary positions or careers in disappearing industries. In many cases, we need to give people basic skills like computer literacy or management training to get them on the ground level of emerging companies. Our goal is to build a pool of qualified employees to help New Jersey’s key industries remain sustainable, expand and stay in the state. The department’s programs are essentially on-the-job training options that allow workers to learn a job while actually working. The department picks up part or even all of the salary costs for a certain period of time, giving employers an opportunity to expand in New Jersey. We are focused on attaching jobseekers to small companies, because they make up 90 percent of our businesses. The U.S. Department of Labor allows us, as a result of a waiver we requested, to provide higher subsidies to small and medium sized businesses. This dovetails with our customized literacy training programs. In these programs, we share the cost of employee training with employers in key industry sectors. So far, we have provided nearly $11.8 million to educate more than 32,650 workers in about 400 businesses.
In the meantime, we are helping people already employed in key sectors to develop computer skills, as well as learn workplace math and measurement, reading and English as a second language. More than $1 million in literacy grants has been issued to 35 businesses, helping in excess of 3,800 people. By linking people searching for
jobs with growing industries, we put people people back to work and accelerate New Jersey’s economic recovery. ❖ Harold Wirths is the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Find out more about the department at www.lwd.dol.state.nj.us.
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ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 11
The Next 100 Years
Tom Bracken Leads the Charge
‘Now is the Time for N.J. to Finally Reach its Full Potential,’ the New Chamber President Says
eteran banker Thomas A. Bracken became the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO in February, taking the reins of the state’s business advocacy organization as it celebrates its 100th year. Bracken says the new opportunity to help make New Jersey a better place to live and work has him feeling “recharged.” Tom has been tirelessly canvassing the state, talking to business owners, association leaders, Gov. Chris Christie and just about anybody interested in improving the economy in the Garden State. “We have to stop being so critical about New Jersey and start talking about why it’s so great,” he said. He slowed down for a moment or two to sit down and talk to Enterprise magazine: What attracted you to the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce job? I’ve been in business in New Jersey for 42 years and have been involved in economic development initiatives with every governor since Jim Florio [who took office in 1990]. I see the huge potential for the business community of New Jersey and I see how we have never been able to come close to achieving that potential. With Gov. Christie, it’s the first time we have an administration with which the business potential can start to be realized. When I was asked to be head of the state Chamber of Commerce, I saw it as an opportunity to be part of the solution. It all just made sense that I shift gears and move from banking to the Chamber. Now is the time for New Jersey to finally reach its full potential. What is your primary goal? My goal is to re-establish the Chamber as a pre-eminent pro-business organization in New Jersey. I plan to work closely with business owners, leaders of other business organizations and governmental entities to grow the business community and turn New Jersey into more of a business-friendly, pro-growth state. The way things work in New Jersey, you need coalitions to
make things happen and any coalition needs leadership. The Chamber can provide leadership to a coalition that will help make a difference. Everybody wins – the state, business organization and the individual businesses themselves. You were in the banking industry for 42 years before you came to the Chamber. What did you learn in banking that helps you lead a Chamber? I received a great education in banking because I interacted with so many customers who are business owners and operators in New Jersey from diverse industries and sizes. I think I have a pretty good idea what they need and what their challenges are. Through the Chamber, we can address a lot of those issues and make those companies feel good about being in New Jersey. We can build their confidence and use that as a springboard for growth. Why should businesses join the N.J. Chamber? They should join for the obvious reasons – our ability to advocate for them, our ability to provide them with great networking events and our ability to help guide them through issues ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 13
Meet Tom Bracken Age: 63 Birthplace: Corry, Penn. Home: Skillman
Photos by: Ric Principato, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
College and major: Bucknell University; graduated 1969, Political Science
such as navigating the government regulatory process, gaining financing and developing new opportunities. This will help business operators grow and run smoother. Utilizing our resources enables members to enhance their opportunities for growth and success. How would you describe your leadership style? I believe in empowerment. I believe in surrounding myself with strong people and letting them use their own styles to effectively do their jobs. I’m not a micromanager. I set goals that everybody believes in and supports. If you have strong people empowered to achieve common goals, things get done. Also, I believe in teamwork. I like flat organizations where everyone is working together in an open and efficient atmosphere. I use email, voicemail and an electronic calendar, but my style is more face-to-face, phone calls and writing things in my calendar book. I am old-fashioned, slowly converting to technology. You serve as chairman of the finance committee of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Foundation; chairman of the New Jersey Alliance for Action 14 |
Foundation; and the vice chairman of the New Jersey Network Foundation. Does it get tedious? No. If you believe in organizations in which you are involved, there is a sense of accomplishment in having a leadership role. I would never join an organization just to have my name associated with it and not do anything. I‘ve seen that happen many times and that is not a positive for anybody. Also, you have an opportunity to interact with some very strong New Jersey business leaders, and that networking is invaluable. A big part of my job is meeting with association leaders, politicians and business owners – and getting us all to pull the wagon in the same direction. What drives you? I have always had the desire to be part of critical initiatives and prominent organizations. I’ve been lucky in most instances to be asked to have a leadership role. And I’ve been fortunate that most of the organizations I have been involved in have been successful. That combination of desire to be involved, being asked to help and achieving success gets addicting. I’m always looking for opportunities where I can help in some substantial
Family: Wife; Son, Daughter, Daughter-in-Law Favorite meal: Pasta Favorite movie: The Godfather Favorite book: It’s Not About the Bike, by Lance Armstrong, a story about his battle with cancer. Favorite vacation place: Mantoloking, N.J.
way. That has served me well in the past and hopefully will in the future. What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job was as a management trainee with a bank called First Trenton National Bank, which was located two blocks from where the Chamber offices are. I have come full circle back to West State Street. I started two days after I graduated from college and I thought I knew everything. As a political science major going into the banking business, I soon realized I knew nothing. I started from ground zero and learned business, banking and how to hone my interpersonal skills. I learned to appreciate what I didn’t know. I realized, to be successful, you have to listen, watch and gain experience. It was a good lesson – to learn there is always more to be done, more to be learned. That’s never-ending. What do you do for fun? I like to be active. I probably have participated in every sport known to man, which caused me to have a hip replacement. That limited my activities, but I still do a lot of bike riding. I enjoy playing golf, swimming, walking my dog and keeping busy around the house. Anything to stay active. ❖
focus on education
Career Changes Going Back to School By Diana Lasseter Drake Tom Muller built a successful career as an accountant – 17 years with JP Morgan Chase in Jersey City – that led to dealing with high-end clients and negotiating contracts. However, when the recession hit a few years ago, Muller’s department within the mortgage division was vulJudith Kornberg nerable. “I could see the handwriting on Dean of Professional Studies Berkeley College the wall,” says Muller, 52. “The economic change forced me to think, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ I decided now was the time to change.” Muller enrolled in an accelerated program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey’s School of Nursing in Stratford that allows students with deSusan Schurman grees in other disciplines to earn a bachDean of University College Rutgers University elor of science in nursing in a year and a half. He will graduate in a month and, once certified, most likely accept a job on the medical-surgical floor of the Kennedy Health System in Washington Township. “You can change careers in a year and a half for an investment of $30,000 and start a career that is marketable and rewarding,” Muller says. Muller represents the changing student body on campus: over 30 and in need of new skills to stay competitive and marketable in a challenging and demanding job market.“Our graduate programs have increased tremendously,” said Lynn McFarlane, director of marketing and communications at UMDNJ School of Nursing in Newark. “The trend is that people are going back to school to get more education.” In addition to the accelerated degree, the university’s Newark campus will begin offering a part-time nursing program in May. Statistical analyses from the U.S. Department of Education and others indicate that an increasing number of adults are going back to school, said Judith Kornberg, dean of professional studies at Berkeley College, an institution that specializes in career education with campuses in Woodbridge, Paramus and Newark. “Adults usually go back to school to add credentials to their résumé, to update their skills or to aid them in career transition,” says Kornberg, adding that in addition to continuing education courses, colleges are offering online classes and hybrid classes – a mix of both online and classroom – to accommodate adult work schedules. “Marketing is a good example of a field that requires updated skills. It
NJ SCHOOL OF NURSING, STRATFORD: Debora Tracey, clinical lab and simulation coordinator at UMDNJ-School of Nursing, takes students through a simulated patient emergency using a computerized manikin. Photo BY: UMDNJ-School of Nursing
has changed tremendously with social media. If you want to appeal to new and young audiences, it might be time for you to expand your knowledge base.” Beyond training in individual fields, the very nature of the economy is changing – and requiring more from its workers, said Susan J. Schurman, dean of University College at Rutgers in New Brunswick, which serves non-traditional students. “Workers need more skill and education to satisfy employers and to earn a decent wage,” she says. “Business and industry have also figured out how to do more with a lot fewer people.” The challenge, adds Schurman, is that some 60 percent of the American workforce does not have a college education. “That leads to a very strong policy push from the [politicians] and think tanks saying that we have to help our workforce get the skills they need so we have the ability to retain high-paying jobs,” Schurman explains. “The caution there is to be clear that we are [guiding] people into occupations and education pathways that are going to lead to those jobs.” All of this is creating conversation on campuses, she added. “If we want to attract new business and make sure that New Jersey residents have opportunities, we have to figure out what policy changes are required to service this more diverse mix of students.” ❖ Diana Lasseter Drake is a freelance writer. ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 15
focus on accounting
Avoiding New Jersey Gross Income Tax Pitfalls By Karen A. Schirmacher
Proper planning is imperative to avoid tax rule pitfalls. Here’s how to do it. The New Jersey state income tax is a tax on gross income, so losses and deductions are only allowed in limited situations. Income is categorized into different “buckets.” While all income is taxed at the same rate, taxpayers cannot offset losses from one bucket with income from another. Individuals owning businesses held in separate entities (e.g., S corporations, LLCs and partnerships) are most likely to be affected by this issue. The following examples illustrate the impact of this rule. Example 1: Sally Sally owns 100 percent of an S corporation that generates a loss for the tax year. When Sally prepares her New Jersey income tax return, the S corporation loss cannot be offset against her wages, as the two items are in different buckets. This seems unfair since both the wages and the loss originated from the same entity. This outcome also is often seen in the context of partnerships and LLCs, because many partners and members incorrectly draw a salary that is reported on a W-2, usually because it is convenient and eliminates the quarterly estimated tax payment requirement. If, however, the compensation was treated as a guaranteed payment (the proper treatment), the unfair outcome would be avoided as guaranteed payments fall in the same bucket as net partnership income and loss. Thus, offsetting the two is permitted at the state level. Example 2: Ann and Ben Ann and Ben are equal shareholders in an S corporation operating a business, and also are equal members in an LLC (taxed as a partnership), owning the building in which the business is operated. The S corporation pays rent to the LLC. The S corporation reports a net profit for the year while the LLC reports a net loss. Under New Jersey tax rules, income and losses from partnerships and S corporations are in different 16 |
buckets, thus no offset is permitted. It’s another seemingly unfair result because the two entities are clearly related. Depending upon the circumstances, the check-the-box regulations may provide relief. Under these rules, the LLC could be taxed as an S corporation, thereby allowing the income and loss from related entities to be offset for New Jersey tax purposes without affecting either entity’s legal status. However, there are federal ramifications to changing the tax status of an entity that must be considered. While the above examples illustrate a couple of the biggest New Jersey gross income tax pitfalls, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some often-overlooked benefits of New Jersey tax law. The threshold for deducting out-of-pocket medical expenses is lower for New Jersey purposes than for federal purposes (2 percent versus 7.5 percent). Amounts paid for health insurance through a Section 125 plan and amounts contributed to a flex-spending plan are fully deductible for New Jersey purposes to the extent they are included in taxable wages for state purposes. Meals and entertainment expenses are fully deductible for New Jersey purposes, while only 50-percent deductible federally. Finally, individual retirement account (IRA) contributions are not deductible for New Jersey purposes, so individuals who claimed a federal deduction have a New Jersey basis in their accounts, which they can recover as they take distributions. Given the stark differences between federal tax rules and New Jersey gross income tax rules, and the relatively high state tax rate, New Jersey tax consequences can’t be overlooked. Whether planning for selling a business or a personal income tax projection, these differences provide both traps and opportunities for business owners. ❖ Karen A. Schirmacher, CPA, is a principal at Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C. Contact Schirmacher at email@example.com or 732-846-3000. © New Jersey Society of CPAs. Reprinted with permission.
Top Deductions for Your Small Business You may be exhaling now that your income taxes are filed, but it’s never too early to map out your tax strategy for next year’s return. Among the many challenges and opportunities you face are figuring out which tax deductions you qualify for. The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants offers these tips on dealing with deductions: Get a Grip You can’t deduct legitimate expenses if you don’t have an accurate sense of what they are, so be sure to keep complete and up-to-date records throughout the year. Retain and organize all receipts for business purchases so you have thorough documentation for your deductions. All About Start-Ups If you’re a new business owner, there are specific rules on how to deduct expenses, depending on when the purchases are made. Costs paid before your business began operating are considered a capital expense. You can deduct up to $5,000 of these purchases your first year in business, but anything above that amount must be amortized – or paid off in equal amounts – over the next 15 years. Expenses you incur once your business is up and running can be deducted in the year you pay them. New Equipment – Deduct Now or Later? In most cases, businesses cannot immediately deduct the cost of equipment they plan to use over the long term. Instead, they must deduct a portion of the equipment cost over several years. However, sole proprietors and some other smaller businesses can generally deduct certain equipment costs immediately in the year in which they’re made. Recent stimulus legislation has increased the amount of the deduction you’re allowed to take in this situation. Taxing Questions Which taxes are you allowed to deduct on your tax return? Most sales taxes on business purchases are immediately deductible as part of
the purchase price. However, taxes on a large asset, such as an auto or equipment, may not be fully deductible in the year the purchase is made. On the other hand, you can deduct excise, fuel and employment taxes in the year you pay them, as well as state, local and real estate taxes. What about your own self-employment taxes? These should be addressed on your own individual tax return. Turn to Your Local CPA Small business is a critical component of the economy, representing 99.7 percent of employers in the country. If you are a small business owner or dream of starting your own company, remember that your local CPA can offer valuable advice on all aspects of your operations. ❖ ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 17
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Left: New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew SidamonEristoff, middle, with, from left, N.J. Chamber Board Members B.J. Agugliaro, managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Dennis Bone, chairman of the N.J. Chamber and president of Verizon New Jersey, Chamber Board Member Aldonna Ambler, president, AMBLER Growth Stategy Consultants; and Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the State Chamber of Commerce. Photo by: Ric Principato, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
State Treasurer to N.J. Chamber Members: Income Tax Increase Has No Chance By Scott Goldstein
New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew SidamonEristoff told a group of New Jersey Chamber of Commerce members on March 11 that Gov. Chris Christie will veto any proposed legislation that increases the state income tax on the highest earners, calling such a hike “an excellent strategy for losing jobs and talent.” The state’s income tax rate is a factor that employers consider when expanding or relocating a company, Sidamon-Eristoff said. The current rate for the highest earner is 8.97 percent, tied with New York for the highest in the region. Sidamon-Eristoff cited a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce-funded study that found more than $70 billion in wealth left New Jersey between 2004 and 2008 as affluent residents moved elsewhere. “We need to modernize New Jersey’s tax structure to make the state more competitive,” he said at a roundtable breakfast in Monroe sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber. “What’s very important is to signal to the business community that New Jersey is on the mend, that we are on the right path.” The state treasurer noted there are $200 million in pro-growth tax reforms in the state budget that Christie proposed. They include instituting a single sales factor formula for determining Corporation Business Tax liability; allowing a cross-netting of business losses against the state income tax for entrepreneurs involved in more than one line of business; reducing the minimum tax on S-corporations; and exempting from sales tax the installation and 18 |
support of electronically delivered software for business use. “It is encouraging to listen to Treasurer Sidamon-Eristoff,” said Thomas Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “Many of the provisions that the treasurer outlined in the governor’s budget are exactly the kind of changes the New Jersey Chamber has been promoting for years. These are some of the initiatives we are supporting that will generate economic growth and jobs in New Jersey.” Sidamon-Eristoff promoted the Christie administration’s efforts to institute public worker and teacher benefits and pension reform. He said those areas are responsible for $2.5 billion, or 9 percent, of the budget, and are projected to increase by $1 billion in the next four years. “This is an important moment,” he said. “If we stop moving forward on reform, if we give up, I shudder to think what our future may hold.” The Christie administration is working to move the state to strictly performance-based budgeting that funds state agencies and programs based on value and performance, he added. The state’s traditional system, Sidamon-Eristoff said, “has a builtin bias toward spending.” ”We can’t have all the government we would like, but [we can have] all the government we can afford,” he said. “Government is not a business, obviously, but we should run government more efficiently and demand results for our tax dollars.” ❖ Scott Goldstein is communications manager for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
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N.J. Chamber Launches Radio Ads Supporting Christie’s Bid to Lure Illinois Businesses The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce launched a series of radio ads supporting Gov. Chris Christie’s initiative to lure Illinois-based businesses to New Jersey. The ads, which ran throughout March on a variety of stations, including New Jersey 101.5, the Point, WRAT, WOR-710, The Breeze, Star 99.3, Magic 93 and Coastal Broadcasting, tout New Jersey’s fifth place finish in “quality of life” as recently ranked by Forbes Magazine. “It’s not just Gov. Christie or the State Chamber saying that New Jersey is a great place to live. An outside source is reinforcing that,” said Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “In
fact, Education Week recently ranked our schools either second or third nationally in each of six measures of achievement, another reason why New Jersey is a great place to live and build a business.” The State Chamber produced three ads for the campaign in conjunction with the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA). State Chamber spokesperson Ray Zardetto explains in the ads reasons why New Jersey is a great place to do business, citing “38,000 miles of road, the third largest port in
the country, the close proximity of four major airports and the second highest median household income in the country.” In the third ad, Zardetto shares the microphone with NJBA President Paul Rotella to advocate more of the same. The State Chamber ads are the latest salvo in a growing competition between Illinois and New Jersey, which began after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced in January a 66 percent hike in his state’s income tax. Christie responded by authorizing ads highlighting the advantages of locating businesses in New Jersey. Most recently, a group of Chicagobased companies countered Christie’s ads with a campaign refuting Christie’s overtures. ❖
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ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 19
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Making N.J. a Convenient Place to a Run Business By Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno During the 2009 campaign and transition, Gov. Chris Christie and I met with hundreds of business leaders – CEOs, owners of midsize companies, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno entrepreneurs and various other economic stakeholders – to hear their concerns and suggestions about the state’s troubling business climate. These discussions informed us greatly as we created the New Jersey Partnership for Action, later supported by a bi-partisan report issued the week we took office. Consisting of three unique components – Choose New Jersey, the Eco-
nomic Development Authority (EDA) and the Business Action Center (BAC) – the Partnership for Action represents the proactive, coordinated approach to economic policy that had long been lacking in Trenton. The Business Action Center essentially ties it all together by providing a “one-stop shop” for the business community to facilitate growth and job creation across industry sectors by ensuring timely delivery of essential information and services to employers and entrepreneurs. Comprised of business experts skilled in the areas of attraction, retention, advocacy and state planning, BAC staff is charged with streamlining key government services. It is also responsible for educating the business community about New Jersey’s economic
development incentives, and facilitating discussions with the EDA and the departments of Labor and Workforce Development, Community Affairs, Treasury and others to match a company’s specific needs with the ideal programs. Finally, BAC is home to the Division of Travel and Tourism, which emphasizes that New Jersey is not only open for business, but that once you’re here, there is no greater place to live, work, raise a family and vacation. We were confident the Business Action Center would be a success, but so far it has surpassed even the most ambitious expectations. Since we assumed office, BAC staff has counseled 750 businesses on regulatory and other matters, and assisted 36,000 clients, mainly small businesses, through its call-center. Over the same period, BAC issued 217 proposal letters to companies of all sizes and across key industries for the potential creation of approximately 31,000 new jobs and the retention of 20,000 employees. On the international front, we have already hosted 22 foreign delegations and completed nine key foreign direct investment projects that will create nearly 400 jobs and $40 million in capital investments. By more effectively allocating existing resources, New Jersey has gone from zero to two foreign trade offices serving the critical European and Asian markets. A new day has dawned for New Jersey’s business community, one defined by convenience and an environment amenable to growth, investment and job creation. I invite you all to enjoy this new “one-stop shopping” experience by calling us directly at (866) 534-7789 or by visiting us online through our easily accessible and highly-informative business portal at www.nj.gov/njbusiness. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you soon. ❖ Kim Guadagno serves as New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor and its 33rd secretary of state.
Christie Signs Long-Sought Tax Reform Bills; N.J. Chamber Gets Behind Christie’s Education Plan The New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce commends Gov. Chris Christie for signing two important pro-growth business bills on April 28 that will go a long way towards stimulating both jobs and our economy. The Chamber has long advocated for these changes in the tax law. “Gov. Christie’s actions will generate positive results for business retention and attraction, and accelerate the pro-business momentum in place now,” said Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud the governor’s determination and thank members of the Legislature on both sides of the aisle.” S-2753 will phase in a single sales factor allocation formula for New Jersey businesses over three years. New Jersey currently determines the portion of a company’s income that is subject to state Corporate Business Tax by considering the company’s property, payroll and sales in New Jersey. The presence of property and payroll as factors discourages capital investment and job creation in New Jersey. The new law will eliminate property and payroll as factors, and base the Corporate Business Tax solely on sales. S-2754 will give small businesses whose business owners pay their taxes through the personal income tax (SCorps, LLCs, LLPs, sole proprietorships or partnerships) the same benefits as taxpayers who pay the Corporate Business Tax. This will allow these businesses to carry forward net operating losses for 20 years. This carry forward provision is phased in over a five-year period. The bill also phases in a change that allows businesses to offset gains and losses from one category of income to another. Education Reform Would Maintain N.J.’s Highly-Skilled Workforce The New Jersey State Chamber of
“The focus of reform must be on our kids and making sure all of them receive a quality education and that they are ready to become part of the highly skilled workforce that companies in New Jersey have come to expect.” – Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce Commerce strongly supports Gov. Chris Christie’s fundamental education reform package, saying it is what New Jersey needs to maintain its highly skilled workforce in a competitive global marketplace. “This is not a radical proposal, it is good policy,” said Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO of the Chamber. “The governor’s package will allow schools to reward strong performance and identify poor performance so remedial action can be taken where required. The focus of reform must be on our kids and making sure all of them receive a quality education and that they are ready to become part of the highly skilled workforce that companies in New Jersey have come to expect.” The package of bills propose a statewide evaluations system for teachers and principals, reform of the state’s tenure system, merit pay to New Jersey’s best teachers and protections for good teachers by ending “last in, first out” laws and the practice of forced placement. “The Chamber has been advocating many of these specific reforms for almost two decades,” said Dana Egreczky, senior vice president of workforce development at the Chamber. “Study after study shows that an education system that does not properly prepare all students for the workforce limits business expansion and growth. This in turn costs the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and forces it to spend millions more on the social pro-
grams needed to support students not adequately prepared by their schools.” “In a rapidly changing, increasingly competitive regional, national and global marketplace, the status quo is not acceptable,” concluded Bracken. “Continuous improvement is critical if quality outcomes are the goal.” Waiver Rule for Business Looking to Build and Expand The Chamber is backing the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s waiver rule for businesses looking to build and expand in New Jersey. “New Jersey has a history of overregulating those who want to grow jobs and improve the economy, which ultimately results in lost economic opportunities,” said Michael Egenton, senior vice president at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “We now have a process and procedure in place that will provide the business community with some flexibility and predictability.” The rule would allow the DEP to waive strict compliance with regulations in certain limited circumstances. Under the proposed rule, the DEP would consider a waiver only after determining that at least one of four situations exist: When rules conflict with one another; when strict compliance creates unduly burdensome situation; when a waiver creates a net environmental benefit; or when a public emergency exists. ❖ ENTERPRISE 2Q 2011 | 21
Susan Connolly, executive vice president and COO of Foley Inc., was elected president of the board of trustees of Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity on Feb. 7.
YU & Associates Inc. of Elmwood Park won a 2011 Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies-New York for its innovative engineering related to the design and construction of the Parking and Sports Facilities at Yankee Stadium. In just 10 days, Wells Fargo customers across the U.S. donated more than $1 million through Wells Fargo ATMs to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund. This is the first time ATMs have been used nationally to accept donations. Wells Fargo’s 1.5 million New Jersey customers can use the company’s 476 ATMs in the state to make donations. In other Wells Fargo news, Brenda Ross-Dulan, Wells Fargo’s Southern New Jersey regional president, was inducted March 31 into the inaugural class of the New Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame, which was founded by the YWCA of Trenton. “Brenda was selected for this prestigious award not only because of all she has achieved in a historically male-dominated industry, but because she serves as a role model to young women looking to start their careers,” said Jose Hernandez, CEO of the YWCA of Trenton. The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey pledged up to $125,000 in support to the relief agencies helping the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The foundation’s support includes a $25,000 grant to the American Red
Cross Northern New Jersey Chapter and another $100,000 through a matching gifts program with employees. Educational Testing Service (ETS) and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey created the Regional Internship Center of Southern New Jersey, which promotes economic growth in the region by fostering the career readiness of college students. Nonprofit groups in New Jersey received more than $3.5 million from the Verizon Foundation in 2010. The majority of the funds went to organizations that support education, domestic violence prevention and Internet safety. In addition, Verizon employees volunteered more than 68,600 hours to nonprofit groups throughout the Garden State in 2010. Woodbridge-based law firm Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer announced that Everett Johnson of the Public Finance Team and Daniel Lapinski of the Mass Tort and Class Actions Team have been named shareholders. Edward Albowicz of the Financial Services Team, Kelly Erhardt-Wojie and Francine Tajfel, of the Commercial Real Estate Team, and Alex Lyubarsky of the Personal Injury Team, have been named counsel. Burton Trent Public Affairs announced the expansion of its public affairs, media relations and business development consulting services to Albany, New York City and Long Island as former New York State Assembly Assistant Minority Leader Thomas W. Alfano joins the firm as counsel. Alfano will focus his efforts on managing the firm’s clients’ public affairs and communications issues with the Cuomo administration and county and municipal governments, as well as assist national public affairs interests. Volunteers from Infineum USA L.P. on March 2 joined millions of children, parents, educators and professionals across the nation to celebrate Read Across America day to honor the birthday of the beloved children’s book author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss,” at several local schools.
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