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As Tax Season Begins, Menendez, Pascrell Lead Legislation to Repeal Trump Tax Attack on Middle Class Families

Bipartisan Stop the Attack on Local Taxpayers Act of 2019 fully restores State & Local Tax (SALT) Deduction. Last week, President Trump indicated he’d revisit SALT cap that hiked taxes on millions of middle-class Americans.

Washington, February 11, 2019

SADDLE BROOK, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.-09), senior members of the tax-writing Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees, unveiled a bipartisan, bicameral bill to repeal the federal cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, imposed by the Trump Tax Law of 2017, which has led to the double-taxing of millions of middle-class Americans.  With the beginning of tax-filing season underway, many taxpayers—especially in higher cost states like New Jersey—are just now realizing that they owe significantly more on their taxes as a result of the SALT cap.

“We’re just two weeks into the tax-filing season, and thousands of taxpayers across New Jersey are now fully realizing how bad the Trump Tax Law and it’s gutting of the property tax write-off is for them and their families,” said Sen. Menendez.  “We know all too well that New Jersey is a high cost state, where families face high property tax bills and high cost of living.  Well, our bill is designed to provide some relief.  Generally speaking, the more you pay in property and state taxes, the more relief you’ll get from our bill.  Allowing property taxes to be fully deducted has been a bedrock principle of our tax code and is commonsense tax policy that rewards states that invest in things like education, public safety, infrastructure and economic opportunity for all.”

“The Trump tax scam law specifically targeted our state by capping the State and Local Tax deduction,” said Rep. Pascrell.  “The vast majority of those claiming the deduction are middle-class households, especially in New Jersey, and the deduction helps local governments raise revenue for needed projects. In my district alone, 37 percent of taxpayers claim the deduction, to the tune of nearly $19,000 on average. That’s not small change.  So this tax season, many of my constituents are taking a hit on their tax bills. Everything from our housing market to our ability to finance infrastructure and public safety will be hurt. The bipartisan SALT Act of 2019 will restore tax fairness for New Jersey and will be my top priority this Congress.”

“Regrettably, as we predicted, taxpayers are beginning to see lower than expected returns and citizens of NJ will suffer the added tax burden of the removal of state and local tax deductions (SALT).  I opposed the removal of this fair provision in our tax code as it disproportionately hurt residents in my state.  New Jersey already only receives only 74 cents in federal benefits for every dollar it sends to the federal government. I am cosponsoring the Stop Attacking Local Taxpayers Act of 2019 to bring back the full SALT deduction and restore fairness for NJ taxpayers," said Rep. Smith.

The Stop the Attack on Local Taxpayers (SALT) Act of 2019 fully restores the SALT deduction, which has been part of the tax code since the federal income tax was created in 1913.  It also restores the top individual income tax rate to 39.6%, the rate at which upper income was taxed prior to passage of the Trump Tax Law.  Rammed through the Republican-controlled Congress on a party-line vote in December 2017, the Trump Tax Law gave huge tax breaks to the super rich and giant corporations, while hiking taxes on the middle class and capping SALT at $10,000.  This is the first tax-filing season under the new law, which went into effect for the 2018 tax year.

The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to write off taxes paid at the state and local level from their federal income tax bill so they won’t be subject to being taxed twice on the same dollar.  In addition to helping families avoid double taxation, the SALT deduction supports the ability of communities, cities, and states to raise their own revenues and fund critical investments in public education, infrastructure, social services, and public safety. 

In 2017, about 30% of taxpayers claimed the deduction, and more than 80% of those filers earned less than $200,000—middle class in high cost-of-living states.  In New Jersey, 1.8 million, or 40%, of taxpayers deducted their local property and state income taxes in 2016, the last year the data is available, averaging $18,000 per deduction.

According to a recent survey by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) of more than 300 CPAs in the state, more than 63% said their individual and family clients earning less than $200,000 will see their federal tax bill rise as a result of the SALT cap.  Nearly 70% said the SALT cap would definitely or somewhat influence their advice to clients on whether to leave New Jersey.  One CPA said, “I had a client who earns $60,000 and she lost $2,500 of refund compared to 2017.  Another said, “It seems that Trump did not understand or fully appreciate the effect this would have on middle class taxpayers in high tax states like N.J.”

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell announced the legislation at RotenbergMeril, a Saddle Brook, N.J. accounting firm. Their legislation has been endorsed by AFSCME, the National Association of Counties, and US Conference of Mayors.

“The SALT limitation affects the middle class, as well as wealthier taxpayers.  It’s unfair to New Jerseyans to bear a larger tax burden than most—and that’s exactly the effect of the cap,” said Ann Callari, a tax partner at RotenbergMeril.  “The SALT limitation just adds to our taxpayers’ burden.”

“We commend Representatives Pascrell and Smith for their commitment to restoring SALT as its elimination will ultimately lead to increased property taxes and diminished home values for New Jersey’s hardworking homeowners that already pay the highest property taxes in the nation and receive less than a 50% return on every dollar they pay the federal government in income taxes,” said John Donnadio, Executive Director, New Jersey Association of Counties. 

“Thanks to the Republican tax scam, middle-class New Jerseyans preparing their tax returns are seeing how much they are hurt by President Trump’s limit on their SALT deduction. To many of our families, the GOP tax law is actually a tax hike. Restoring the full SALT deduction by rolling back an unnecessary tax cut given to the wealthiest Americans is the fair thing to do. I commend our entire delegation for fighting for taxpayers and committing to overturn a tax that treats New Jerseyans unfairly just because they live in New Jersey,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.

The Menendez-Pascrell SALT Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).  In the House, the bill is cosponsored by Chris Smith (R-N.J.-04), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.-06), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.12), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.-01), Andy Kim (D-N.J.03), Tom Malinowksi (D-N.J.-07), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.-10), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN).

“The Republican tax bill lavished massive tax cuts on the largest corporations and wealthiest households, all while making many of New Jersey’s working families pay more—not less—in taxes and hurting state and local governments’ ability to provide essential public services,” Sen. Booker said.  “By restoring the top marginal rates and repealing the unfair caps on state and local tax deductions, we can begin to build a fairer and more progressive tax code for all Americans.”

“The administration’s tax bill was a giveaway to the already-wealthy and big corporations at the expense of the middle class and working people,” said Sen. Schumer.  “Capping the SALT deductions at $10,000 was a gut punch to countless middle-class New Yorkers that also lowers home values; it is a punitive and misguided policy that needs to be reversed ASAP and I will be working with my colleagues to do just that, starting with cosponsoring this legislation to repeal the cap on the state and local tax deduction.”

“The Republican tax law is a giveaway to large corporations, the wealthy and well-connected — and Illinois families are being forced to pick up the tab,” said Sen. Duckworth.  “I am glad to join Senator Menendez and my colleagues in introducing legislation to stop many hardworking Illinoisans from being taxed twice on their hard-earned pay and I urge the Senate to pass this bill immediately.”

“The GOP Tax Scam continues to be a disaster for average Americans working to make ends meet.  We should be striving to help working families, not giving budget busting tax breaks to the rich while calling for cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Rep. Pallone said.  “The SALT Act would take an important step towards undoing the damage the GOP Tax Scam did to our country by increasing deductions on state and local taxes that are especially important in New Jersey. I look forward to working with our entire delegation to push the SALT Act in Congress in the coming months.”

“While the Trump Tax scam rewarded his billionaire buddies, nearly 80,000 hardworking people in New Jersey’s first district alone are losing their full tax deductions they rely on,” said Rep. Norcross.  “Trump golf clubs and other corporations get to keep their full deductions while our families get screwed.  We refuse to continue to foot the bill for big corporations and billionaires.  The SALT Act will help restore this hard earned money back into pockets of New Jersey’s families.”

“By capping the State and Local Tax deduction, President Trump’s tax scam has raised taxes on working families in New Jersey,” said Rep. Payne.  “State and local taxes pay for our schools, our police, our roads, and the essential services we rely on every day.  Working people in New Jersey should not have to pay taxes twice on their income. It’s time we recognize the Trump tax scam for what it is—a tax hike on New Jerseyans.  I’m proud to support Senator Menendez and my colleagues as we work to restore fairness to the State and Local Tax deduction.”

"Working New Jersey families already paid their fair share,” said Rep. Kim.  “The added uncertainty of the unfair tax law passed during the last Congress is an issue that needs to be fixed immediately.  I'm proud to stand by my colleagues to support this common sense approach to addressing a burden that should never have been placed on the people of New Jersey's Third District."

“Capping our SALT deduction was a deliberate attempt to punish states that value quality public services,” said Rep. Malinowski.  “They want us spending less on schools, transit, and the environment so that corporations have more money to buy back their shares on Wall Street.  I look forward to working with Congressman Pascrell to right this wrong.”

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