A proposal to improve New Jersey’s business climate by waiving fines for first-time minor paperwork violations of state regulations won the approval of the Assembly on Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12), would apply to businesses that employ 50 or fewer workers and qualify as a small business under the federal “Small Business Act.” NJBIA supports the legislation.

“There’s no reason to punish a small business owner for filling out forms incorrectly,” says Andrew Musick, NJBIA vice president for Taxation and Economic Development. “Such fines do nothing to protect the public’s health and safety, but punishing employers for such small mistakes sends the wrong message.”

“For thousands of small businesses, these types of penalties can be the most aggravating,” Musick said.

The bill does have limits. If the paperwork violation has the potential to cause serious harm or if failure to impose a penalty would contribute to criminal activity, penalties would not be waived.  Likewise for those violations that involve tax collections.  Additionally, if the paperwork violation is not corrected within six months, penalties could be assessed at that time.

Musick added that the bill would help New Jersey strike a better balance between a business climate that allows small businesses to grow and the need to regulate their activities.

The bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.