Gov. Cuomo Begs Business Leaders to Lobby for Blue State Tax Handout

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Monday, May 10th, 2021, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

Business leaders and wealthy taxpayers are leaving New York in droves due to the high tax burden imposed by state Democrats. Rather than fixing this problem through tax cuts, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is privately begging wealthy business leaders to stay in the state and lobby the federal government to subsidize the high taxes he has imposed.

As reported by CNBC, Cuomo recently asked a small group of executives to lobby the federal government to repeal the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, a policy Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called a "gift to billionaires." This comes several weeks after Cuomo signed a state budget into law that will see some New York residents pay tax rates that are even higher than California.  Clearly, Cuomo understands that these tax hikes will cause taxpayers to leave the state, yet he wants the federal government to step in and provide a federal tax cut to offset his state tax increases.

Democrats from high-tax states are desperate to repeal the SALT deduction cap because their constituents balk at the true tax burden from living in these states. Last month, several House Democrats said that the SALT deduction cap must be repealed as part of the next tax-related legislation passed by Congress. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) has even said he will not support the legislation if this provision is not included.

Repealing the SALT deduction cap would shield taxpayers from bad state tax policy. It is also a costly policy proposal that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and do little, or nothing to benefit the middle class.  

Repealing the SALT deduction cap disproportionately benefits the wealthy, as many on the left have noted. For instance:

  • The New York Times described the SALT deduction as “The Tax Cut for the Rich That Democrats Love.” 
  • The Center for American Progress has stated that repeal of the SALT cap “should not be a top priority” as it would “overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, not the middle class.”
  • Referring to repealing the SALT deduction, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, "I think it's just a giveaway to the rich... and I think it's a gift to billionaires."
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently criticized efforts to repeal the SALT cap, arguing that it “sends a terrible, terrible message... You can't be on the side of the wealthy and the powerful if you're gonna really fight for working families.”
  • The left-of-center Tax Policy Center found that the top 1 percent of households would receive 56 percent of the benefit of repealing the SALT cap, and the top 5 percent of households would receive over 80 percent of the benefit. The bottom 80 percent of households would receive just 4 percent.  
  • The Brookings Institution explained that almost all (96 percent) of the benefits of SALT cap repeal would go to the top quintile, 57 percent would benefit the top one percent (a cut of $33,100), and 25 percent would benefit the top 0.1 percent (for an average tax cut of nearly $145,000). Whether or not this is a tax cut for the wealthy is not up for debate—the evidence is clear. 

 

Repealing the SALT cap would be a costly addition to Biden's spending plan. Fully repealing the SALT deduction cap would cost $80 billion per year, or $400 billion in total, as the cap sunsets in 2026 along with several other tax provisions. This $400 billion proposal would tie Medicaid expansion for the single largest category in Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. Because Democrats are attempting to fund this bill through tax hikes, the repeal of the SALT deduction cap could result in Democrats raising taxes elsewhere, including taxes directly or indirectly on low- and middle-income Americans.   

Democrats falsely claim that when the unlimited SALT Cap was repealed, middle class Americans in blue states like New Jersey and New York saw a massive tax hike and were hit with double taxation. They claimed that these blue state residents were now paying federal taxes on income that was already subject to state and local taxes.  

In reality, a majority of Americans do not claim the SALT deduction, or any deduction. Instead, they claim the standard deduction. In 2018, 133 million American taxpayers (or 87% of filers) claimed the standard deduction. These taxpayers deduct zero state and local taxes, so they have no protection against double taxation.  

In addition, most middle income taxpayers in blue state saw a significant tax cut. According to IRS Statistics of Income Data, the average taxpayer in both New York State and New Jersey earning between $50,000 and $200,000 saw a tax cut between 2017 and 2018. 

Taxpayers in both states with AGI of between $75,000 and $99,999 saw an average federal income tax cut of 10 percent, while taxpayers between $100,000 and $199,999 in AGI saw an average tax cut of between 6 and 7 percent. While this does not necessarily prove that every taxpayer in this income bracket saw a tax cut, it does mean the majority of taxpayers in blue states did not see a tax hike, as Democrats claim. 

Gov. Cuomo’s hypocrisy is clear. Just weeks after signing a tax hike into law on wealthy New York residents, he is now begging these same taxpayers to lobby for a federal tax break on high state taxes. This tax break is terrible policy that would subsidize high tax states and do little or nothing to benefit the middle class, a fact that many on the left realize.

Photo Credit: Zach Seward

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