Testa Bill Exempting Commercial Fisherman from State Unemployment Tax Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Testa and signed today by the Governor exempts commercial fisherman from a portion of the state unemployment tax.

“Traditionally, New Jersey’s commercial fishermen have been on the hook for unemployment taxes, but they are not paid hourly wages and they have never been able to collect unemployment benefits,” said Testa (R-1). “This new law will have significant impact on the state’s vital fishing industry that has been extremely hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic.”

Testa’s measure (S-3501/A-5531) exempts commercial fisherman who are paid on the percentage of fish caught or a percentage of the selling price of those fish from the state unemployment law and its costly tax on earnings.

“This will allow dedicated, skilled fisherman to keep more of their hard-earned income, a change that suits the independent nature of the proud individuals who make their living at sea,” said Testa.

The Garden State’s fishing industry is one of the most robust in the United States, and the Port of Cape May consistently ranks in Top 10 in the nation.

New Jersey fisheries contribute more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy, with some estimates doubling that total.

“The fishing industry is vitally important to the entire state, and here in the coastal communities, it is the very lifeblood of small communities up and down the shoreline,” said Testa. “After some challenging years, this new law signifies a changing tide for our fisheries.”