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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

Cuomo, Schumer join forces to fight Trump's tax bill

Cuomo, Schumer join forces to fight Trump's tax bill

'Without state and local tax deductions, potential homeowners may look elsewhere'
Cuomo, Schumer join forces to fight Trump's tax bill
President Donald Trump during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece on Oct. 17, 2017.
Photographer: Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Donald Trump says his new tax plan will reduce the burden on middle-class families, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, both Democrats, aren't buying it.

"While Washington is considering a 'tax cut' plan, what it really amounts to is a 'tax increase' plan for New York," the governor said in a prepared statement Monday. "The elimination of state and local tax deductability is a death blow to New Yorkers and our economy. The current plan only makes it possible to cut taxes for other states by using New York and California as the piggy bank. Every member of our congressional delegation must do everything they can to stop this devastating proposal."

Cuomo and Schumer met Monday at the home of Kathleen and Anthony DiSpirito in the town of Bethlehem to launch their joint campaign against the Republican tax proposal. DiSpirito is the director of pharmacy at Albany Medical Center, and his wife is a stay-at-home mom to their their two young sons. Also joining them were homeowners from Rensselaer and Saratoga counties.

In its current state, according to Democrats, the Republican tax bill would eliminate SALT deductions entirely. Under the federal tax system now in use, taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns can deduct state and local real estate and personal property taxes, as well as either income taxes or general sales taxes. Currently, 44 million taxpayers, or one-third of all taxpayers, across the country take the state and local tax deductions.

"Whether the savings from these deductions becomes money for home repairs, groceries, school supplies or even the yearly vacation, it belongs in the pockets of New Yorkers, period," Schumer said. "These deductions should not be eliminated so people making millions of dollars a year can catch a tax break of their own. It simply makes no sense for Congress to eliminate the SALT deduction, which has helped steady the cost of many middle-class families, including those in the Capital Region. It would be double taxation on the middle class."

Cuomo and Schumer, who rarely appear together, urged their fellow New York Democrats and their Republican colleagues to vote against the bill in the House. Republican leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, supports the bill and has argued that it will increase the standard deduction and reduce business taxes in an effort to spur the economy. Trump has said his goal is to reduce rates — especially on corporations and businesses — as well as provide new breaks for working-class households and middle-class parents.

According to figures provided by Cuomo and Schumer, Albany County taxpayers, who on average pay $7,520 in state and local taxes each year, would pay an additional $3,438 under Trump's plan.

"Without state and local tax deductions, potential homeowners may look elsewhere, which could devastate New York state, including the Capital Region and North Country economy," Schumer said. "So today, with Gov. Cuomo, we are calling on every member of Congress from New York to do the right thing and block this gut-punch to New York's middle class. In the meantime, I will do everything in my power here in the U.S. Senate to fight this GOP-led effort to end critical mortgage, state and local property tax deductions."

Schumer and Cuomo are calling for New York's nine Republicans in the House, including Elise Stefanik of Willsboro and John Faso of Kinderhook, to vote against removing the tax deductions from the bill. Stefanik and Faso have already indicated they have reservations about the bill, in particular the elimination of the deductions. Schumer added that if all nine Republicans from New York vote no on the new bill, it would not pass the House.

Joining Cuomo and Schumer for Monday's event were Duncan MacKenzie, CEO of the state Association of Realtors; Sam Fresina, president of the state Professional Firefighters Association; state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy; state Sen. Neal Breslin; and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.

"Home ownership is a keystone to strong societies, a keystone to building personal wealth," MacKenzie said. "Anything to take away from that that's irrational, which this really seems to be, doesn't make any sense."

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