Hoping to eliminate a sliver of red tape facing New Jersey's small businesses, lawmakers continue to advance a measure that would allow minor paperwork violations to go unpunished.

Under the proposed law that received unanimous approval in the full Assembly and now awaits consideration by a Senate committee, small businesses can escape costly fines for inconsequential filing mistakes, as long it's just a one-time error and not part of a pattern.

"This bill may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but for the thousands of small businesses we have in the state, these are the types of penalties that can be the most aggravating," said Andrew Musick, vice president for taxation and economic development with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

The measure, which applies to business entities with 50 or fewer full-time employees, relates mainly to information collected by the state. A fine would not be suspended if the paperwork error could cause serious harm to public interest, interferes with the detection of criminal activity, or concerns the assessment or collection of any tax, debt, revenue or receipt. The measure also requires that the violation be corrected within six months of the business being notified.

"The state has an unfriendly business environment, and small employers are struggling every day to survive." said Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, a sponsor of the bill. "There's no need to clobber them with fines for technical errors that don't harm anyone. New Jersey should focus on growing the economy, not punishing job creators for honest mistakes."

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