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Hudson Valley News

Congressman Faso Answers Tax Questions During Constituent Call

Congressman John Faso
Official Photo

New York Republican Congressman John Faso hosted a telephone town hall Tuesday night on the GOP tax reform proposal. Faso says the call was meant to help him determine the best course of action for upstate.

In the hour-long call, Faso fielded some 20 questions from his 19th District constituents after letting them know the following.

“I expect that the House is going to take up this legislation Thursday or Friday this week,” Faso said. “I am yet undecided on how I’m going to vote.”

Jan from Germantown, in Columbia County, wanted to know what Faso supported in the bill.

“What I’m for? I’m for simplification. I’m for the lower rates. I’m for the things like doubling the standard deduction so that more people can file their taxes without having to itemize. I do support things like allowing small businesses to write off their expenses for equipment and machinery in the year they buy it without having to go through an extensive depreciation schedule, which is often confusing,” says Faso. “I do support rationalizing our corporate tax system so that our companies, those that do business abroad, the Boeings, the IBMs, the Apples, aren’t incentivized to stash their profits earned abroad, overseas.”

He says the tax proposal would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. As for what Faso is against:

“The biggest problem I have with this bill is from a Federalism standpoint, the subjection of the taxes that people pay to the state and local governments, subjecting those taxes to, in essence, what is double taxation because you would no longer be able to fully deduct that from your federal taxes, and the federal government would tax them,” Faso says.

The House version contains a partial elimination of state and local income tax, or SALT, deductions while the Senate version has a full elimination. Clare from Fly Creek in Otsego County chimed in.

“How can you even, by any stretch of the imagination, consider signing a bill that the wealthy are the biggest benefiters and the average person are the biggest losers?” asked Clare.

“In actuality, the division of allocation of benefits is going to middle-income people, primarily,” says Faso. “There are benefits to upper-income people, primarily the phase out of the estate tax, or what some people call the death tax, that would phase out after five years.

A few callers voiced concern about adding up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt with the tax bill. Faso said he shared this concern. Cynthia from Gardiner, in Ulster County, asked about the provision in the Senate version to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

“And I’ve met with you a couple of times about the ACA so I have concerns about, one, this being included in the tax bill, where I don’t think it belongs and, two, that it will be very harmful,” Cynthia says.

“Cynthia, thank you for the call. I do not agree with adding that provision into this tax bill, although I don’t agree with the individual mandate overall and I’d like to reform it,” says Faso. “But I don’t think this is the time or place to do it.”

Richard from Amenia, in Dutchess County, says he and his wife, who had a stroke and is in a nursing home, are on a fixed income.

“My medical expenses are going to be $30,000 this year, and you couple that with the elimination of the state taxes, I’m going to wind up losing my house,” Richard says. “This is ridiculous, and how can I afford to stay in New York with this happening?”  

“Well, you have the perfect example of why I am for keeping the medical expense deduction,” says Faso.

The House bill eliminates medical deductions; the Senate version does not. Faso says he anticipates the House bill ultimately will include these deductions. Johanna from High Falls in Ulster County had an off-topic question.

“I would like to know when you plan on doing a town hall meeting in Kingston,”

“Well, I did one back in August in Esopus, which a lot of folks from Kingston came to,” says Faso. “So, we’re going to, we’re planning, I’m around the district all the time and I’m doing outreach to people everywhere I can.”

Faso says he plans to hold other meetings like the one in Esopus. Constituent calls for Faso to hold in-person town halls grew loud earlier this year when Republican bills to repeal Obamacare were introduced. The various repeal bills ended up going nowhere. Meantime, the call with constituents was Faso’s third call on the tax plan in a week. He held one with local government officials and another with small business leaders. In general, Democrats have argued that the tax bill overwhelmingly favors the super-rich and multinational corporations.

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