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Editorial

Restoring tax fairness for Long Islanders

Posted

In December 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, pushed by President Trump throughout his first year in office. The act limited the deduction for state and local taxes — previously unlimited — to $10,000. That section of the legislation alone cost middle-class taxpayers on Long Island and other high-tax areas thousands of dollars, and in some cases, more than that.

Thanks to intrepid reporting by The New York Times, we now know what Trump paid in federal income taxes that year — $750. The year he was elected, he also paid $750. For 10 of 15 years before that, he paid nothing.

That is to say, while Trump was hurriedly ramming through a tax measure with little public debate, he was benefiting from a vast array of loopholes to evade paying his fair share of federal income taxes.

Ask yourself how much you paid in federal income taxes those two years — likely thousands more, if not tens of thousands more. Should you not be entitled to a deduction as basic as the one previously offered for payment of state and local taxes?

We have editorialized on the unfairness of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before — and we will continue to until it is addressed. Essentially, the measure forces taxpayers on Long Island and in other high-tax areas to pay taxes on the state and local taxes they have already paid. The deduction was originally enacted to ensure that taxpayers would not be charged twice.

The act also nixed deductions for unreimbursed employee expenses, tax preparation fees and other miscellaneous deductions, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

In short, the act eliminated some of the only deductions that middle-class Long Islanders had depended on in the past, while the president employed a litany of deductions available only to the rich — the rich who, we might add, sustained business losses.

Congress should have already rescinded the poorly considered SALT provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but it hasn’t. Democratic representatives like Tom Suozzi, in Glen Cove, and even members of the president’s own party like Republican Peter King, in Seaford, who is retiring at the end of the year, have spoken out, calling for a restoration of the SALT deduction. Ensuring that happens, however, will require sustained pressure on Congress and the White House.