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Rinier v. State

Decided: May 4, 1994.

JAMES WILLIAM RINIER AND CARMELLA FORZIATI, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Judgment of the Tax Court of New Jersey.

Before Judges King, Havey and A.a. Rodriguez.

Havey

The opinion of the court was delivered by

HAVEY, J.A.D.

Plaintiffs, husband and wife, filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that provisions of the New Jersey Gross Income Tax Act, N.J.S.A. 54A:1-1 to 54:10-12, violate their federal equal protection and due process rights by requiring them to file a joint state income-tax return if they file a joint federal return. The consequence of filing a joint state return is that plaintiffs' aggregate income is subject to a higher tax rate. The Tax Court Judge, Judge Lario, granted summary judgment to the State, finding that the provisions of the statute at issue were reasonably related to a legitimate governmental purpose. We agree and affirm.

Under N.J.S.A. 54A:8-3.1c, married persons filing a joint federal tax return must also file a joint New Jersey return. Effective January 1, 1991 (L. 1990, c. 61, § 12), N.J.S.A. 54A:2-1a and b, provide for different tax rates applicable to "married individuals filing a joint return" (subsection a) and "married individuals filing separately" (subsection b). The tax is computed in accordance with the following tables:

a. For married individuals filing a joint return . . .

If the taxable income is: The tax is:

Not over $20,000.00 2% of taxable income

Over $20,000.00 but not $400.00 plus 2.5% of the

over $50,000.00 excess over $20,000.00

Over $50,000.00 but not $1,150.00 plus 3.5% of the

over $70,000.00 excess over $50,000.00

Over $70,000.00 but not $1,850.00 plus ...


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