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Christie signs bill to nix unemployment tax surcharge

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The start of the new fiscal year won't bring a new unemployment tax surcharge for employers.

Gov. Chris Christie made sure of that Friday, when he signed a bill postponing the 10 percent surcharge. The move will save employers about $300 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

The measure had bipartisan support, and was a top priority for many business groups, who said companies would have difficulty withstanding the surcharge at a time of recovery, both from the economic recession and Hurricane Sandy.

Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said New Jersey is still in a "fragile position," with high unemployment and slower economic growth than its neighbors and much of the nation.

"The last thing our businesses need is an additional tax hit," he said. "This is the responsible thing to do to ensure our businesses can continue focusing on job creation and economic development."

The surcharge is part of an effort to ensure the solvency of the state's unemployment insurance trust fund. The state follows a tax table to calculate how much unemployment insurance tax companies will pay each year based on the health of the trust fund's balance. The highest-tax column, known as "E-plus 10," calls on employers to pay the top rate plus a 10 percent surcharge. That rate would have gone into effect today had the governor not signed the bill to postpone the surcharge.

"By reducing unemployment insurance tax rates for the upcoming fiscal year, this measure allows employers to continue adding jobs and increases the state's competitive economic position," said state Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Sparta).

Reporter Jared Kaltwasser is @JaredKaltwasser on Twitter.

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