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Jackson Hewitt moved their corporate headquarters to Jersey City in 2015

Tax Incentive Task Force subpoenas at least one witness

Jackson Hewitt whistleblower will testify today

By David Wildstein, March 28 2019 9:23 am

At least one witness appearing before the New Jersey Tax Incentive Task Force today will be there under subpoena, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

An former executive of Jackson Hewitt, a national tax preparation company based in New Jersey, received a subpoena from the task force to testify today the probe of how the state Economic Development Authority awarded more than $10 billion in tax subsidies to profitable and sometimes politically competitive companies during the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

The task force subpoenaed Gulsen Kama, the former vice president of financial planning and analysis, under authority granted to them by Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order that allows the panel to utilize the subpoena power of the State Comptroller.

Kama is a whistleblower, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The governor’s office declined comment.

Jackson Hewitt received nearly $2.7 million in subsidies over ten years as part of the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, EDA records show.  The company had threatened to move almost 70 jobs out of state, but with the subsidies agreed to retain and relocate those jobs from their headquarters in Parsippany to a new facility in Jersey City.

The Task Force is expected to question Kama about how many jobs were Jackson Hewitt kept in New Jersey as a result of the tax credits.   Dozens of jobs were eventually transferred to Florida, where he company opened a corporate technology center.

New Jersey law requires companies that receive tax incentives certify their tax credits within three years.  Jackson Hewitt has since received two six-month extensions from the EDA, the second coming last October, to complete their certification.

Murphy signed an executive order in January forming the task force after a State Comptroller audit of the tax incentive program at the EDA revealed significant oversight and monitoring deficiencies.

The task force is headed by former New Jersey Public Advocate Ronald Chen, now the deal of Rutgers Law School in Newark.  Jim Walden, a former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Milton Williams, who co-chaired the Moreland Commission in New York, are counsel to the committee.

The task force hearing today can be viewed live on YouTube.

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