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NJBIA supported several bills before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday that would help small businesses offset some expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the purchase of health and safety equipment and winterizing outdoor dining areas.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey businesses had to pay for outdoor tables and seating, heaters, plexiglass barriers and more to comply with social-distancing mandates at a time when they could least afford these added expenses,” NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz said. “These bills help refund some of the costs associated with the government mandates.”

The first bill, S-3740/A-4958, sponsored by Senator Joe Lagana and Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-38), would allow businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees to claim a refund on sales taxes paid on products and services related to winterizing outdoor dining areas during the winter of 2020 and 2021. This includes tents and space heaters, as well as products to melt ice and snow.

Under this legislation, businesses could submit an exemption application to the state Division of Taxation to obtain a retroactive refund for sales taxes paid between Sept. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, on winterizing products and services. Businesses would have 60 days from the date that the bill is signed into law to apply for their sales tax refund.  The Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee held the bill, and Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-36) said a vote would occur on Jan. 6.

The second bill, S-4254, sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton (D-7), would allow businesses with 50 or fewer employees to use a bonus depreciation allowance of up to $150,000 for capital expenditures they incurred to comply with the health and safety mandates required by COVID-19 executive orders. Bonus depreciation allows a business to immediately deduct a large percentage of the purchase price of certain property and would include items such as plexiglass barriers, outdoor seating and outdoor heaters. The Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to approve the legislation.

NJBIA also supports legislation, which is scheduled for a vote in the full Senate on Dec. 20, that allows small restaurants, wedding venues, banquet halls or alcoholic beverage manufacturers to use the same bonus depreciation up to $150,000 or capital expenses related to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. These include the purchase of heaters and overhangs and upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

The legislation, A-5218/S-3404, sponsored by Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-16) and Senator Vin Gopal (D-11), makes this benefit available to owners of restaurants that have no more than 100 employees and are not chain restaurants. This narrower bill was the genesis of the broader depreciation bill, and NJBIA supports both bills as it is unknown which will get to the Governor’s desk and be signed.