Online mega-retailer Amazon could save billions in business taxes if it builds its highly anticipated second headquarters in New Jersey, thanks to a bill moving through the Legislature.
The Garden State would give Amazon a $3 billion tax break if it brought at least 30,000 jobs to New Jersey, the largest incentive in state history.
And the more workers Amazon brought, the higher the tax break would go.
“It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs on top of that,” said Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who sponsored the Assembly bill. “I’ve never been one of the biggest fans of tax incentives, but when we can have so many jobs in the state of New Jersey, it will be great.”
The bill was approved by separate Assembly and Senate committees Friday. Both chambers are expected to hold final votes Monday.
Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign it into law.
The proposal broadens the state’s largest tax-credit program, Grow NJ, which has awarded $4.4 billion in tax breaks to companies that have stayed in New Jersey or moved there.
The legislation would create a new class of eligible company — the “transformative corporate headquarters” — and allow the state Economic Development Authority to offer it $10,000 in tax credits per job, double the current amount the EDA can give.
Any company receiving such a tax break under the new program would only have to maintain 80 percent of its workforce to keep the award.
Although municipalities across the state hoped to lure Amazon, Christie backed a proposal to bring the company’s HQ2 project to Newark, New Jersey’s largest city.
Critics have called the pricey tax break corporate welfare, and they say the state would be better off investing in services that attract new industry and development, such as mass transit and higher education.
“Companies will take tax breaks, because that’s what they’re there to do,” said Jon Whiten, vice president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “But they’re more interested in other factors — your location, your workforce. Those are just as important.”