BILL TO HELP OUT-OF-STATE BUS COMPANIES PASSES SENATE

Legislation sponsored by Senators Jeff Van Drew and Jim Whelan to exempt from corporate business taxes out-of-state bus companies that bring tourists to destinations within New Jersey – such as Atlantic City casinos – was approved unanimously today by the full Senate.

The idea behind the bill (S-1124) is to exempt bus companies that carry passengers, such as senior citizens, from Philadelphia, New York City and Virginia to Atlantic City for a day trip. The legislation is intended to encourage more business, travel and tourism to Atlantic City.

“The out-of-state buses which carry casino patrons to Atlantic City represent a vital part of our local economy, bringing thousands of tourists to the resort each year,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).  “We need to do our part to make sure the buses continue to run, and that bus companies aren’t hampered by New Jersey’s tax structure when they’re delivering much-needed patronage to our casinos.”

“Out-of-state bus companies bring tourists into our city, where they spend money at our shops, our restaurants and casinos,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “Especially given the competition we are experiencing from neighboring states, we should be incentivizing these kinds of businesses, not making it more costly for them to operate here.”

The “Corporation Business Tax Act” was updated in July 2002 to extend the reach of the New Jersey corporation business tax to a corporation that derives income from New Jersey sources – which include out-of-state tour bus companies.

Since then, due to a range of factors, visitors to Atlantic City by charter bus have each year declined. From 2008 to 2009 alone, visitors by charter bus dropped 12.8 percent, from 4.9 million to 4.3 million, according to statistics from the South Jersey Transportation Authority’s 2009 Annual Report. By comparison, in 2001, about 8 million people traveled by bus to Atlantic City, according to the SJTA.

The bill limits the corporation business tax so it is not imposed on a corporation whose only connection with the state is the delivery of passengers to a New Jersey location.

The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 40-0. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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