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NY Leaders Continue To Rail Against Federal Tax Plan


The tax overhaul plan proposed by President Trump and now being considered in Congress would end the deduction on federal income tax forms for state and local property taxes. Governor Andrew Cuomo says it would disproportionately harm New Yorkers, where property taxes are among the highest in the nation, and he’s taken opportunities at public events recently to make the case against the plan.

Cuomo calls the plan unfair “double taxation”. The Democrat says if New Yorkers are not allowed to deduct their state and local taxes, they would essentially be taxed twice. Once, by state and local governments and again by the federal government on earnings that they already paid in the form of taxes to the state and local governments. He estimates it would cost New York $17.5 billion a year.

“This is like upside down world,” Cuomo said on October 5 on Long Island. “It’s called a tax cut plan. It’s really a tax increase for most New Yorkers.”

Cuomo predicts that getting rid of the deduction would also ruin the state’s business climate, which is already struggling in some regions.

“It is an attempt by the federal government, purposeful or coincidental to make New York and several states actually less competitive for businesses and people,” Cuomo said on October 3 in New York City.

The governor is not alone in his opposition. Fellow Democrats, including State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, are also worried. DiNapoli said recently that he's "very concerned” about the effects of eliminating the deduction.

“For a high tax state like New York, state and local tax deductibility has been a very important component of the federal tax code,” said DiNapoli who said even with a proposed higher standard deduction it’s still not a “win” for New York taxpayers.

DiNapoli and Cuomo have conducted separate studies showing that New Yorkers give more than $40 billion more in taxes to the federal government than the state gets back, an imbalance that has doubled in recent years.

Chuck Schumer, who is New York’s senior U.S. senator and the Senate Minority Leader, says it’s not just New Yorkers who will be adversely affected. Schumer says one third of total taxpayers in the U.S., or around 44 million, currently take the state and local tax deductions. He recently released data showing that people in states like Georgia, a Republican stronghold, and Colorado, would also be affected.

“The effect of removing state and local deductibility is deep and wide,” Schumer said. “And I think it’s going to alone kill the Republican plan as it is.”

Schumer predicts that the elimination of the deduction will eventually be dropped from the plan. He says he was involved in the last successful tax overhaul in the 1980’s. He says the deduction was ultimately kept in the plan because it would have adversely affected too many lawmakers’ constituents.

Several Republican representatives from New York have already said they are against getting rid of the state and local property tax deductions, including John Faso of the Hudson Valley and Peter King of Staten Island. Seven GOP members, including Claudia Tenney, and John Katko, both of Central New York and Elise Stefanik of the North Country, wrote a letter to Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, asking him to reconsider.  

Cuomo says if the final plan includes the elimination of the deduction, he’ll go to court to stop it.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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