How to file a New Jersey state tax return

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In a Nutshell

If you owe taxes in New Jersey, it’s important to know when and how to file, as well as what state tax breaks you might be able to get.

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This article was fact-checked by our editors and reviewed by Troy Grimes, tax product specialist with Credit Karma Tax®. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

New Jersey ranks third in the nation for its state and local tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation.

But the Garden State offers tax credits and deductions to help offset the tax burden on residents — including a generous property tax deduction.

If you pay New Jersey state tax, it’s important to know about this and other tax deductions and credits you may qualify for, as well as when you need to file. We’ll cover those topics and more in this quick guide.


The basics of New Jersey state tax

Taxing body

The New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation, regulates New Jersey state taxes. You can submit general tax questions online or call 1-609-292-6400. Alternatively, you can get in-person assistance at a regional information center.

Filing and payment deadline

New Jersey state tax returns and payments are typically due on the same day as your federal income tax return. However, this can change if April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday.

Filing statuses

New Jersey recognizes the following filing statuses:

  • Single: You are unmarried and not a partner in a civil union. You also don’t qualify as a head of household or have qualifying widow(er) or surviving civil union partner status.
  • Married and civil union couples: If you’re married or in a civil union as of the last day of the tax year, you’re eligible to file jointly or separately.
  • Head of household: You can file as head of household if you meet the requirements for federal purposes.
  • Qualifying widow(er) or surviving civil union partner: You qualify for this status if your spouse or civil union partner passed away during the year and you didn’t enter into a new marriage or civil union before the end of the year.

New Jersey income tax rates

The state has a progressive tax based on your filing status and income bracket.

For 2019, New Jersey individual income tax rates and income thresholds for single filers and married or civil union filers filing separately are:

  • 1.4% for taxable income of $20,000 or less
  • 1.75% for taxable income of $20,001-$35,000
  • 3.5% for taxable income of $35,001-$40,000
  • 5.525% for taxable income of $40,001-$75,000
  • 6.37% for taxable income of $75,001-$500,000
  • 8.97% for taxable income of $500,001-$5 million
  • 10.75% for taxable income of more than $5 million

For married or civil union couples filing joint returns, heads of household and qualifying widow(er)s or surviving civil union partners, the 2018 rates and income thresholds are:

  • 1.4% for taxable income of $20,000 or less
  • 1.75% for taxable income of $20,001-$50,000
  • 2.45% for taxable income of $50,001-$70,000
  • 3.5% for taxable income of $70,001-$80,000
  • 5.525% for taxable income of $80,001-$150,000
  • 6.37% for taxable income of $150,001-$500,000
  • 8.97% for taxable income of $500,001-$5 million
  • 10.75% for taxable income over $5 million

New Jersey exemptions, deductions and credits 

Here are some tax breaks you could get on your New Jersey state tax return.

Exemptions

Although personal exemptions are not available for federal income tax, New Jersey offers personal exemptions for taxpayers filing their 2019 state returns. The exemption amounts are:

  • $1,000 per filer
  • $1,000 for a filer’s spouse or civil union partner (if filing jointly)
  • $1,000 for a filer’s domestic partner (for eligible domestic partnerships)
  • $1,500 for each qualified dependent child
  • $1,500 for each other dependent (who qualifies as a dependent for federal tax purposes)
  • $1,000 for each dependent attending college

There are additional exemptions of $1,000 for joint filers and their spouses or civil union partners who are age 65 or older, $1,000 for joint filers and their spouses or civil union partners who are blind or disabled, and $3,000 for joint filers and their spouses or civil union partners who are veterans (and who meet eligibility requirements). And in 2019, the exemption for veterans’ income doubled from $3,000 to $6,000.

Property tax deduction or credit

If you’re a homeowner or tenant who pays property taxes, either directly or through rent, you may qualify for either a deduction or refundable credit. Homeowners can deduct property taxes paid or $15,000, whichever is less. Tenants generally can count 18% of their rent payments as property taxes paid.

If you opt for the tax credit, you can receive a refundable credit of $50. But you can’t take advantage of both benefits. You must determine whether the deduction or credit will give you the greater tax benefit.

Medical expenses

You may be able to deduct eligible unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or domestic partner, and your dependents. Only expenses that exceed 2% of your income can be deducted.

Self-employed health insurance deduction

If you’re considered self-employed for federal tax purposes, or you receive a wage from an S-corporation in which you own more than 2% of the shares, you can deduct the amount you pay for health insurance for yourself, your spouse/civil union or domestic partner, and your dependents.

Alimony payments

If you make payments for alimony or separate maintenance because of a court order, you can deduct them on your state tax return. However, you can’t deduct child support payments.

New Jersey earned income tax credit

Much like the federal tax credit of the same name, this one is designed for taxpayers of limited income. Your New Jersey state credit will be equal to 39% of your federal credit.

How to file your New Jersey state tax return

Here are a few options for filing your New Jersey state tax return.

Depending on your residency status and the type of return, the state has several addresses where you might need to send your return. Check the state website to get the right address for your situation.

If you owe and can’t pay

If you owe taxes but can’t pay the full amount, the state offers payment plans ranging from three to 60 months. If you don’t file your state taxes, or can’t pay and don’t get on a payment plan, you could face penalties and fees.

Tracking your New Jersey tax refund

If you’ve e-filed your New Jersey state tax return, you can check the status of your tax refund online four weeks after you originally submitted it. If you filed a paper return, you can check online 12 weeks after submitting.


Bottom line

Filing New Jersey taxes can be easy, given the state’s online and paper options. Before you do, make sure you understand what deductions and credits you may qualify for, so that you pay only what you owe on your tax bill.


Troy Grimes is a tax product specialist with Credit Karma Tax®. He’s worked in tax, accounting and educational software development for nearly 30 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in business analysis from Texas A&M University. You can find him on LinkedIn.