N.J. law says public employees must live in the state. Here’s how 2,310 workers got a pass. (2023)

The Mahwah kindergarten teacher was blunt and unapologetic. She wanted out of New Jersey.

Sitting before the state’s Employee Residency Review Committee, the teacher quickly made her case. She wanted to move to Manhattan to live with her boyfriend. She didn’t own a car. She said she could take a bus each day from New York to her job teaching kindergarten at a Mahwah public school.

The move to New York would be good for her personal life and her wallet.

“That’s not a very compelling reason to leave,” said Douglas Ianni, one of four members of the state review committee in Trenton hearing the teacher’s case last month.

Under the “New Jersey First” law, nearly all public employees hired after 2011 are required to live in the state. The only exceptions are for workers who can prove a financial hardship, cite a health reason or provide proof they are “critical” in their workplace.

Flipping through the Mahwah teacher’s file, Ianni came across a letter from an assistant superintendent saying the woman had been selected to take on a team leader role in her school. That was enough for the teacher to be deemed “critical” in her job.

The state Employee Residency Review Committee voted unanimously.

She could live wherever she wanted. And just like that another state employee was exempted from the state’s residency law.

The teacher jumped up with a broad smile on her face and left the hearing room as another nervous applicant took her place in front of the committee.

When Gov. Chris Christie signed the “New Jersey First Act” in 2011, supporters said the idea was long overdue. If you work for New Jersey -- in a state, county, municipal or school district job -- New Jersey should be your home, the law said. If you are being paid by New Jersey taxpayers, you should pay state and local taxes and be a state resident.

(Video) 'Bloomberg Surveillance Simulcast' Full Show 10/27/2022

But in the more than seven years the law has been in effect, at least 2,310 public workers have been given temporary or permanent exemptions to live out of state, according to an NJ Advance Media review of state records. About 80 percent of those who applied and had their cases voted on by the committee were granted permission to live elsewhere -- usually New York, Pennsylvania or Delaware.

Many of the reasons workers want to live out of state are complicated and deeply personal: Divorce. Complex child custody agreements. Crippling debt. Elderly parents. Fatal and debilitating illnesses. It isn’t unusual for applicants to burst into tears as they appear before the committee in Trenton and list their reasons for wanting to live outside of New Jersey.

In other cases, public employees were granted permission to live out of state for no reason other than they had a letter from their bosses saying their jobs were “critical” to the state and they would be difficult to replace them if they quit over New Jersey’s residency requirement.

A state Department of Labor spokesman declined to comment on the process. He said the department does not keep publicly-available statistics on how many people applied to the state Employee Residency Review Committee for exemptions each year or how many of the requests were granted or rejected.

NJ Advance Media reviewed records from the 83 public meetings the review committee has held since the law was passed in 2011. The documents show:

--The committee has considered 3,083 cases for exemptions to the residency law, including some cases involving multiple people with the same job title and others where the same person has appeared before the committee several times to ask to live out of state.

--In 2,310 cases the committee voted to grant temporary or permanent exemptions to the law. Another 560 applicants were rejected. In three cases the results were either sealed for an unspecified reason or the result of the vote was not revealed. The remaining 210 applications were withdrawn, delayed or not voted on.

--It appears it has grown easier to be granted an exemption to the law over the years. In 2012, the first full year the law was in effect, the committee voted to grant about 71 percent of applicants exemptions. So far this year, nearly 90 percent of requests have been granted.

(Video) Five teens charged for murder after throwing rocks

--Those applying come from a broad swath of state agencies, school districts and local government entities across the state -- from the Office of the Governor to state hospitals, local prisons and state colleges. But the majority of those asking to be exempt from the law appear to come from public school districts, especially those close to the Pennsylvania border, where less expensive housing and lower property taxes are just a few miles away.

N.J. law says public employees must live in the state. Here’s how 2,310 workers got a pass. (1)

The Employee Residency Review Committee did not respond to requests to comment about the numbers.

There have been calls to repeal or amend the “New Jersey First” law almost since the day it was approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor. Then-Gov. Christie praised the law for helping “increase employment opportunities for New Jersey residents, by ensuring that citizens throughout the state enjoy access to public positions in their communities.”

But critics said the law was keeping good employees from taking public jobs in New Jersey. Schools, including public charter schools in Newark and North Jersey that recruit teachers from New York City, said they were losing good applicants because of the law.

“Sometimes residency requirements sound good on paper, but if they have the potential to exclude a whole group of qualified people, especially in the teaching field, they can be short-sighted,” state Sen. Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex) said in 2014 when he sponsored a failed bill rolling back part of the law.

The “New Jersey First” law made news again last year when it was blamed as part of the reason NJ Transit had trouble hiring enough engineers to keep its trains running.

In September, the state Employee Residency Review Committee voted on a blanket exemption for all NJ Transit employees in “mission essential” jobs, including train engineers, bus drivers, conductors and rail maintenance workers. So, NJ Transit is free to hire out-of-state workers for those jobs.

The “New Jersey First” law has also been cited in a lawsuit against Rutgers University challenging whether four appointed members of the Rutgers Board of Governors should lose their unpaid positions because they live outside of New Jersey. The case has raised questions about whether the residency law should apply to volunteers, including those appointed to state boards, in addition to paid public employees.

(Video) What Would It Mean If U.S. States Went Bankrupt?

It is unclear what percentage of public workers are now exempt from the law requiring employees to live in the state. In addition to the more than 2,300 who have been granted exemptions by the committee, the law already exempts university professors and some college employees along with anyone hired in any public job before the law was passed in 2011.

The law gives workers one year to move to New Jersey after they are hired. Failing to do so can cost employees their job.

Most of those who want to ask for an exemption need to take a day off work and make a trip to Trenton for one of the Employee Residence Review Committee monthly hearings in a meeting room with sweeping views of the city on the 13th floor of the Department of Labor building.

“The judgement room,” one of the applicants said ominously before March’s meeting as a group of about 40 nervous public workers waited to walk in.

Inside, a panel of four appointees, headed by Ianni, the human resources director for the state Department of the Treasury, sat at a table. One by one, public workers were called up to make their case for why they don’t want to live in New Jersey.

At March’s hearing, the cases included: a Department of Labor worker who wanted to move to Pennsylvania to care for her aging mother; a Lenape Regional High School teacher who wanted to move to Pennsylvania because his wife is working in Philadelphia; a newly-married Lawrence Township employee who wanted to move to Delaware, where her new husband lives with a medical condition; and a Department of Corrections officer who needed to move to Pennsylvania under the terms of a shared custody agreement her husband has for his son.

All of their exemptions were granted.

In other cases, employees -- including a speech pathologist from a Lawrence Township school, an information technology worker from Hudson County Community College and the communications director for the state Department of Environmental Protection -- gave little or no reason why they wanted to live out of state.

But each had a “critical need letter” -- a statement from their bosses saying they worked in an important public job and would be difficult to replace -- so they were quickly granted passes to live outside of New Jersey.

(Video) Chinese officers charged in plot to obstruct probe

In other cases, employees were given temporary exemptions to live in New York or Pennsylvania so their teenagers could finish high school or so they could continue to get in-state tuition for children attending Pennsylvania or New York colleges. That means the employees can live out of state for a year or more with the committee’s blessing, but they will eventually need to either move to New Jersey or reapply for another exemption.

The committee was largely sympathetic to the employees asking for exemptions, suggesting to several that they withdraw their applications and return another month with additional documentation proving their cases if it looked like the panel was going to vote to deny their requests.

One of those who withdrew their requests and promised to return another day was a Pennsylvania man who wanted a $9-an-hour part-time job with the state Department of Environmental Protection to stay active after his retirement. He expressed frustration when the committee members raised questions about whether he had made his case to be exempt from the law.

The part-time, hourly job had no job security and little incentive to move his family, including his wife and elderly mother in law, to sell their house and move to New Jersey, he said.

“The entire fabric of my life is in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I’m settled in my life.”

He agreed to withdraw his application for now and return, perhaps with a note from his doctor calling for him to be exempt from the “New Jersey First” law for medical reasons.

Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

Get the latest updates right in your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.com’s newsletters.

(Video) State and Local Officials Webinar: Ukraine, Humanitarian Parole, and Refugee Resettlement

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

FAQs

Do NJ state workers have to live in NJ? ›

2011, Chapter 70), requires employees of all public employers (for example, state, county, and municipal governments), public agencies, authorities, boards, bodies, commissions, public institutions of higher education, certain quasi-public entities, and all school boards to reside in the State of New Jersey unless ...

Can NJ state employees live out of state? ›

Senate Bill 4203 eliminates the requirement that employees of a school district have their principal residence in New Jersey. Notably, the bill retains the residency requirement for all other public officers and employees.

Can a NJ teacher move out of state? ›

Current law prohibits public school employees and administrators from living outside the state unless they have a waiver.

What constitutes residency in NJ? ›

According to the New Jersey instructions: A Resident of New Jersey is an individual that is domiciled in New Jersey for the tax year or an individual that maintains a permanent home in New Jersey and spends more than 183 days in the state.

Is the New Jersey First Act still in effect? ›

– New Jersey Public Employee Residency Requirements Deemed Unconstitutional. A recent decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey held that the New Jersey First Act (“Act”) and its residency requirements are unconstitutional in their present form. The Act, signed by Gov.

Can you live in PA and work for the state of NJ? ›

Reciprocity agreements mean that two states allow their residents to pay taxes only where they live – rather than where they work. For example, this is especially important for high-income earners who live in Pennsylvania and work in New Jersey.

How long does it take to establish residency in NJ? ›

If New Jersey is not your domicile, you are only considered a resident if you maintain a permanent home and spend more than 183 days here.

What is the NJ first act? ›

The New Jersey First Act mandates that public employees, which includes NJIT employees, be residents of New Jersey in order to hold certain positions. This law is effective September 1, 2011 and applies to all current and newly hired NJIT employees, unless otherwise exempted.

Do you have to live in Jersey to teach in Jersey? ›

“That's not a very compelling reason to leave,” said Douglas Ianni, one of four members of the state review committee in Trenton hearing the teacher's case last month. Under the “New Jersey First” law, nearly all public employees hired after 2011 are required to live in the state.

How much does a teacher with a master's degree make in NJ? ›

As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for a Master Teacher in New Jersey is $29,002 a year.

Does NJ have reciprocity with Florida? ›

Unfortunately, New Jersey does not offer real estate license reciprocity with any state.

Do NYC teachers have to live in NY? ›

But while some of those educators may gripe about having to pay to send their kids to free city schools, they can take solace in one thing: Unlike most other New York City employees, teachers can live wherever they want.

What is the 183 day rule for residency? ›

The IRS considers you a U.S. resident if you were physically present in the U.S. on at least 31 days of the current year and 183 days during a three-year period. The three-year period consists of the current year and the prior two years.

Can you have two residences in NJ? ›

“While a person can only have one domicile, they can have multiple residences.” She said domicile is based on intent. This means you can establish your domicile by showing your intent to have a place be your “home base.”

How do you prove residency in NJ? ›

Establishing Proof of Residency
  1. the permanent address is within the State of New Jersey,
  2. confirmation of residency by university through review of student records,
  3. the filing of a New Jersey Resident Income Tax Return,
  4. the possession of a valid NJ driver license and vehicle registration,

How do I change my residency from NJ to Florida? ›

Things to do when you are ready to establish Florida as your domicile:
  1. File a Florida Declaration of Domicile in the office of the clerk of the circuit court for the county in Florida in which you reside. ...
  2. File an application for a homestead exemption on your Florida residence.

What states have teaching reciprocity with NJ? ›

New Jersey Teacher Reciprocity Agreements
AlabamaIndianaNevada
CaliforniaLouisianaNew York
ColoradoMaineNorth Carolina
ConnecticutMarylandNorth Dakota
DelawareMassachusettsOhio
7 more rows

How do I get in state tuition in NJ? ›

What Is Required to Qualify?
  1. A completed Residency Analysis Form (PDF)
  2. A certified NJ resident income tax return from the year prior to the student's enrollment.
  3. A copy of a NJ driver license or non-driver ID, a NJ motor vehicle registration, and a copy of a lease or deed to a NJ home.

What happens if you live in NJ but work in PA? ›

They will get a credit toward their PA income tax obligation for income tax paid to NJ. This is called a resident credit. To get the credit, complete a PA Schedule G-L, Resident Credit for Taxes Paid to Other States and include a copy of the NJ return when filing with PA.

What taxes do I have to pay if living in Pennsylvania and working in New Jersey? ›

NJ Taxation

Compensation paid to Pennsylvania residents employed in New Jersey is not subject to New Jersey Income Tax under the terms of the Reciprocal Personal Income Tax Agreement between the states. Similarly, New Jersey residents are not subject to Pennsylvania income tax either.

How do taxes work if I live in NJ but work in PA? ›

PA and NJ have tax reciprocity with regard to W-2 wages. If you lived in NJ the entire tax year, and worked in PA, your W-2 wages are not subject to PA taxes. For tax purposes, your PA wages are considered NJ income, and are fully taxable by NJ.

Can I be a resident of two states? ›

Legally, you can have multiple residences in multiple states, but only one domicile. You must be physically in the same state as your domicile most of the year, and able to prove the domicile is your principal residence, “true home” or “place you return to.”

What triggers a residency audit? ›

Any activity that raises a red flag with the FTB can trigger a residency audit. It can be something as simple as living in another state and having a second home in California, to a tip-off from the IRS or another third party. (The IRS and individual states share information, BTW.)

How residency is determined? ›

Your physical presence in a state plays an important role in determining your residency status. Usually, spending over half a year, or more than 183 days, in a particular state will render you a statutory resident and could make you liable for taxes in that state.

How much do teachers get paid in NJ? ›

As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for a Public School Teacher in New Jersey is $37,933 a year.

Is New Jersey getting rid of the edTPA? ›

The Murphy administration said the educative Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, would no longer be required in New Jersey, but it must be replaced by a similar test to be used to certify graduates.

What degree do you need to be a teacher in NJ? ›

A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university is the minimum educational requirement for teacher certification in New Jersey.

What county in NJ pays teachers the most? ›

Teachers in the best paying Bergen County district earn more than $40,000 more than teachers in the best paying Salem County district, an NJ Advance Media analysis showed.

How much do teachers make an hour in NJ? ›

How much does a Teacher make in New Jersey? As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for a Teacher in New Jersey is $28,795 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $13.84 an hour. This is the equivalent of $553/week or $2,399/month.

What do starting teachers make in NJ? ›

The average Entry Level Teacher salary in New Jersey is $46,262 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $38,637 and $56,406.

Can I carry a gun on my property in NJ? ›

Yes. They are legal for purchase and possess in your home or on land owned by you. They are legal to possess and use at a gun range. They are also legal to possess while traveling to and from such places.

What is a justifiable need to carry a handgun in NJ? ›

A private citizen must show justifiable need by specifying in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.

Where can I not conceal carry in NJ? ›

The state generally prohibits the open carrying of firearms without a permit to carry a handgun or Firearm Purchaser Identification Card. Individuals may not carry a handgun concealed without a permit.
...
Location Restrictions in New Jersey
  • Parks;
  • Hospitals;
  • Places of worship;
  • Bars or restaurants where alcohol is served;
15 Sept 2021

How much a teacher makes in NYC? ›

For 2021-22, starting salaries for teachers range from $61,070 (bachelor's degree, no prior teaching experience) to $83,972 (master's degree, eight years teaching experience, without additional coursework). New teachers with a master's degree but no prior teaching experience will earn $68,252.

Can NYC teachers live in NJ? ›

Chris Christie signed the New Jersey First Act in 2011. It says all public employees in the state must live within New Jersey's borders unless they are granted a waiver for financial, health, or other reasons.

Where do most NYC teachers live? ›

Where Do NYC's Teachers and Principals Live Compared With Where They Work?
  • 67% of the 70,328 teachers live within the five boroughs.
  • Teachers in Queens and the Bronx are the most likely to live outside the five boroughs.
  • 81% of Staten Island teachers live in the same borough as they work, as do 57% of Brooklyn teachers.
15 Aug 2013

Do you get taxed twice if you live in NY and work in NJ? ›

While you do have to file taxes with New York and New Jersey, you don't have to pay double taxes. New Jersey residents will receive a tax credit on their New Jersey return for any tax paid to New York, or another state, on income earned in and taxed to both states. This tax credit provides relief from double taxation.

Do you have to live in Jersey to teach in Jersey? ›

“That's not a very compelling reason to leave,” said Douglas Ianni, one of four members of the state review committee in Trenton hearing the teacher's case last month. Under the “New Jersey First” law, nearly all public employees hired after 2011 are required to live in the state.

Can you live in NJ and work for NYC sanitation? ›

Sanitation Workers must reside within New York City, Nassau County, or Westchester County.

Does NJ have 183 day rule? ›

If New Jersey is not your domicile, you are only considered a resident if you maintain a permanent home and spend more than 183 days here.

What happens if I work in NJ but live in NY? ›

Because you live in NY and work in NJ, you will file a nonresident return for NJ and resident return in NY. When you get to the State section of the program be sure to start the nonresident return first (NJ), and resident return last (NY). Instructions for preparing a nonresident state return are provided below.

Does NJ tax remote workers? ›

New Jersey has announced that they will not be looking to tax remote workers as having earned the income in New Jersey. To take precaution, we recommend that you accurately track how many days you are physically working in each state to properly file your tax return as the further advisement comes.

How does income tax work if you live in one state and work in another? ›

If the state you work in does not have a reciprocal agreement with your home state, you'll have to file a resident tax return and a nonresident tax return. On your resident tax return (for your home state), you list all sources of income, including that which you earned out-of-state.

How much does a teacher with a master's degree make in NJ? ›

As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for a Master Teacher in New Jersey is $29,002 a year.

What is the New Jersey First Act? ›

The New Jersey First Act mandates that public employees, which includes NJIT employees, be residents of New Jersey in order to hold certain positions. This law is effective September 1, 2011 and applies to all current and newly hired NJIT employees, unless otherwise exempted.

How much do teachers get paid in NJ? ›

As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for a Public School Teacher in New Jersey is $37,933 a year.

Is it cheaper to live in NJ and work in NY? ›

Lower Cost of Living

One of the biggest reasons why people choose to move to New Jersey while still working in NYC is because it's cheaper. Sure, cities like Hoboken and Jersey City might see comparable prices, but you're probably getting more indoor and, in some cases, outdoor space.

Is it cheaper to live in NYC or Jersey City? ›

Cost of Living Comparison Between Jersey City, NJ and New York, NY. You would need around 9,215.38$ in New York, NY to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 6,400.00$ in Jersey City, NJ (assuming you rent in both cities).

Why do I owe taxes in NJ if I work in NY? ›

New Jersey residents who work in New York State must file a New York Nonresident Income Tax return (Form IT-203) as well as a New Jersey Resident Income Tax Return (Form NJ-1040). Your employer will have withheld New York state taxes throughout the year but you'll need to file in New Jersey as well.

What triggers a residency audit? ›

Any activity that raises a red flag with the FTB can trigger a residency audit. It can be something as simple as living in another state and having a second home in California, to a tip-off from the IRS or another third party. (The IRS and individual states share information, BTW.)

How many days do you have to work in NJ to pay taxes? ›

If you have a permanent home here, and spent more than 183 days in New Jersey, you are considered a full-year resident. NJ tax law calls this a “statutory resident.” If you're considered a statutory resident, you will be taxed on all of your income even if it's from sources out of state.

Can you reside in 2 states? ›

Legally, you can have multiple residences in multiple states, but only one domicile. You must be physically in the same state as your domicile most of the year, and able to prove the domicile is your principal residence, “true home” or “place you return to.”

Videos

1. Biden delivers State of the Union - 3/1 (FULL LIVE STREAM)
(Washington Post)
2. State releases evidence in fatal Jacksonville road-rage crash
(News4JAX)
3. State of Democracy: Richard Wolff
(Maxwell School of Syracuse University)
4. Professor Richard Wolff: Opposition to Paying for Capitalism's Crisis | The New School
(The New School)
5. NYC Mayor Declares Emergency Over Illegal Immigrant Crisis; Biden Pardons Marijuana Possession | NTD
(NTD)
6. July 12, 2022 - Council Session
(MoCoCouncilMD)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated: 03/08/2023

Views: 6595

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.