On appeal from a Final Judgment of the Tax Court of New Jersey.
Before Judges King, Havey and A.a. Rodriguez.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
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 ...