Using Taxation for Access
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Using Tax Policy for Access

The tool of taxation can be used to encourage public access in two major ways.

  • Taxes on the sale of land, or on certain activities at places where the public enjoys the beach or shore, can raise money for the acquisition of additional access rights.
  • Tax incentives can encourage particular uses deemed socially or economically important, or discourage uses that would inhibit coastal access.

How can taxes be used to generate funding for access?

Many counties and municipalities in New Jersey have voter approved, dedicated open space taxes. Taxes can be used as a means of raising funds that the public can invest in the acquisition of public access through voluntary conveyance/acquisition tools or through eminent domain. A land gains tax, real estate transfer tax, impact fees (though not technically a tax), or tax increment financing are examples of such taxation strategies.

How can tax incentives be used for access?

Reductions in a landowner’s taxes can be used as an incentive for allowing public access or to discourage uses that inhibit such access. Tax incentives may include income tax deductions, lowered property taxes, lowered estate taxes, avoidance of capital gains taxes, and gained investment interest. They might also include a current use taxation structure for working waterfronts that provide access for commercial fishing activities.

How do beach tags affect access?

In New Jersey most municipalities charge a fee, through the sale of beach badges, to use the beach. Beach badge fees can be collected by shore towns to cover the costs of services and amenities provided for beach users, such as restrooms and lifeguards. However, municipalities must ensure that beach fees are appropriate and do not discriminate between visitors and locals.

Case Studies

See examples of cases pertaining to beach access fees.

Where can I find more information?

Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)

New Jersey Beach Guide with information on beaches and their resources and fees (NJ Department of the Public Advocate)