Letter: The Tax Bill Doesn’t Work For LI

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As members of Congress from different parties, we disagree on many issues. However, we both support the kind of tax reform that would create jobs, simplify the tax code and strengthen the middle class. And, there’s no disagreement between us that state and local tax deductions can neither be eliminated nor modified in any way when it comes to local residents filing federal income taxes, as the administration has proposed in its tax reform plan and that Congress is preparing to pass. We can’t let this happen.

Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, elected officials must understand that ending or even tinkering with the deductions would be bad for New York, bad for Long Island, and bad for all of our constituents. It is patently unfair, and it amounts to a tax increase for hundreds of thousands of families in each of our districts.
As currently constructed, the House version would cap property tax deductions at $10,000 while eliminating all state and local income tax deductions. The Senate version is even more draconian, with all state and local tax deductions wiped out entirely. While the House plan doesn’t go quite as far as the Senate, nearly every middle-class family on Long Island would get crushed financially.

New York has some of the highest state and local taxes in the nation. And our state is the largest net donor to the federal government. According to a report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public policy think tank, New York sends $48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back—more than any other state. Much of that $48 billion helps subsidize other states through federal programs.
Also, a study by the research institute of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, finds that scrapping the deductions could cost Long Island taxpayers up to $2.5 billion a year. And an estimate by the state Department of Taxation and Finance concludes that close to 950,000 Long Islanders would be hurt if state and local tax deductions are eliminated.

Our agreement on tax reform goes beyond protecting the state and local tax deduction. We favor corporate tax reform to create jobs in America and to capture corporate profits that companies are keeping offshore. We believe that any tax reform plan must include tax cuts for the struggling middle class. The last time Congress came together to overhaul our tax code was 1986. Since then, the code has become voluminous and, in turn, more difficult for average Americans to comprehend. We must simplify it.

In a still-recovering economy, a single misguided action can lead to a series of problems, including an economic slowdown. The actions being proposed would be a punch to the gut for our struggling middle class and the hard-working families of our districts, many of who are still reeling from the economic meltdown that began in the last decade.

We’ve been told by those who’ve written this bill that the middle class will thrive under this plan. You know, and we know, that’s not true for New York’s middle class. As your representatives, we’re standing here regardless of party labels to say that Long Island families deserve to have the state and local tax deduction preserved in its entirety and be able to keep what they have rightfully earned.

—Reps. Tom Suozzi and Peter King

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