- By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributorApr 13, 2021
(The Center Square) – Nearly all of New York’s congressional Democrats have told House leaders on Tuesday they will not support any tax increase unless federal lawmakers restore deductions for state and local taxes.
All but two of the 19 Democrats representing New York districts signed a letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. In the letter, the lawmakers said the provision, which was capped at $10,000 as part of the 2017 tax reform law, unfairly penalizes the state’s taxpayers as well those in other “progressive” states.
“The SALT deduction ensured that New York State middle class families were not taxed twice on their income, which is critical when New Yorkers already pay about $40 billion more in federal taxes than they receive from the federal government,” they wrote.
The letter comes a week after New York state lawmakers passed a budget that included significant tax increases on high income earners. Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the time said he agreed to the tax increases because he received assurances from Washington that Congress would repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler said the repeal is essential now as the state begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that has cost the state more than 1 million jobs.
“Repealing the SALT limitation is a question of fundamental fairness,” said Nadler, who led the letter-writing effort along with U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi.
Democrats hold just a 218-211 majority in the House, with six vacant seats. So, if the 17 New York Democrats hold their line, House Democrats would be unable to pass any tax increase package.
“At the end of the day, we must fix this injustice,” said Suozzi in a statement. “No SALT, no deal.”
The New York Democrats do have a sympathetic ear in Pelosi. Earlier this month, she told reporters she hoped a SALT repeal could find its way in the bill supporting President Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Those joining Nadler and Suozzi on the letter were: U.S. Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Antonio Delgado, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velázquez, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks, Yvette Clarke, Paul Tonko, Brian Higgins, Adriano Espaillat, Joseph Morelle, Sean Patrick Maloney and Ritchie Torres.
The only two delegation members who did not sign the letter were U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kathleen Rice. Ocasio-Cortez in late 2019 voted against a measure in the House that would have rolled back the cap.
Rice, though, according to statements around that same time, supported a measure that would have restored the deduction for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.
An request for a comment late Tuesday afternoon to Rice’s congressional office was not immediately returned.