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More than 50% of certified public accountants surveyed recently by the New Jersey Society of CPAs reported that they have advised an individual or business to leave New Jersey because of the high cost of living and doing business here.

The NJCPA survey, sponsored by Provident Bank, was conducted in May to gauge how accountants view both the national and New Jersey economies. The results, released Wednesday, showed that state and federal policies perceived as unfriendly to business were the top concern of the 440 respondents.

Of those who service clients, an even higher percentage (70%) said they had advised an individual client, as opposed to a business client, to leave New Jersey due to the high cost of living. Sixty percent of those respondents also said they saw an increase in the number of high-income clients who file as nonresidents of New Jersey, and almost 70% percent saw a decrease in the number of high-income clients who have residency in the state.

Respondents pointed to New Jersey’s high property taxes and corporate tax rates as among the top reasons for their beliefs.

Other top concerns for their businesses included the lack of availability of skilled personnel (48%), regulatory requirements (41%) and domestic economic conditions (38%).

The CPAs surveyed also said New Jersey businesses would benefit from more shared services among local governments in the state.

On a broader scale, respondents were evenly split in their view of the economic outlook for New Jersey for the rest of 2021 compared to the first five months, with 36% saying the state economy would get worse and 35% saying it would get better. They were slightly more optimistic about the U.S. economy, with 43% saying the national economy will improve.

Respondents noted several areas where New Jersey’s state government could assist businesses over the next 12 months, which included avoiding excessive regulations and investing in infrastructure improvements.

“The New Jersey Legislature needs to listen to the needs of the business community in the state. Only by working together can we truly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prosper,” said Gregory S. Dittrich, senior vice president and director of Government Banking, Small Business & Escrow at Provident Bank.

“CPAs are on the front lines of economic recovery steps in the state and the NJCPA is eager to continue its work with lawmakers to foster a quick and strong rebound,” said Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO and executive director at NJCPA.