In tiff over unused gift cards, merchants say N.J. will lose millions

A merchants group says New Jersey could lose millions of dollars in sales tax revenue because of a decline in gift card purchases.

Changes in New Jersey’s unclaimed property law allow the state to claim the balance on cards not used for two years. Three major gift card providers have announced they’ll stop operating in the state, but Gov. Chris Christie said he isn’t concerned about that.

“The companies are doing this as a way to try to threaten us because they want to keep the money to increase their profits. I’m not worried about it. I’m not losing any sleep over that one,” he said Thursday. “If they want to move out, move out. It’s their call.”

Christie’s stance on the issue conflicts with his pro-business policies, said John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association.

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“The administration and their actions have been extremely pro-business over the past two years so, quite honestly, we remain hopeful that because of that we’ll still be able to resolve this issue,” Holub said.

The Assembly has approved a measure that would eliminate a requirement in the law for retailers to get ZIP codes from consumers who buy gift cards, but the Senate has not acted on the legislation.

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