Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip are ‘salty’ about taxes


In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Democratic congressional candidate Tom Suozzi underscored his determination to alleviate the tax burdens faced by residents of the 3rd Congressional District, which includes the North Shore. The Democrat pledged to repeal the state and local tax deductions — a $10,000 limit — implemented by former President Trump in 2017, aiming to provide relief to taxpayers in the region.

The conference came on the heels of an ongoing bipartisan tax package being deliberated in Congress from the Ways and Means Committee, which aims to expand the child tax credit and reintroduce specific tax benefits for businesses. However, New York Republicans have expressed reluctance to support the bill unless it addresses the state and local tax deduction issue.

The current $10,000 cap on SALT deductions, implemented during the 2017 tax overhaul under Trump, has drawn criticism, especially in high-tax states like New York. Lawmakers argue that this cap disproportionately affects taxpayers in such states, where property and state income taxes are typically higher.

“I worked hard in Congress to do my job to pass a restoration of the state and local tax deduction,” Suozzi said in the conference. “I passed it three times with bipartisan support, I built a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to support the state and local tax deduction. I brought in governors and mayors, brought in firefighters and teachers and other public employees.”

Suozzi took aim at his opponent, county legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip accusing her of lacking the political expertise and initiative needed to address the issue effectively, saying she resorts to party rhetoric and attacks instead of engaging in constructive dialogue to find solutions. He added, “It’s too difficult to get things done in the toxic environment that is Washington, D.C., unless you’ve got the skills and experience and knowledge of the policy and how government works to get things done.”

“After being in office for decades, it’s laughable to think that sending Tom Suozzi back to Washington will fix anything,” Brian Devine, a Republican staffer for Pilip, wrote in an email to the Herald. “Suozzi’s time in Congress produced a proven track record of failure, highlighted by both a failure to secure our border (resulting in the migrant crisis we see today) and a failure to restore the SALT deduction.”

Devine added that if elected, Pilip will work with the Long Island delegation - critical to keeping a majority in Congress - to secure borders and restore SALT tax breaks for the homeowners of the district. The Herald asked for clarification on how Pilip would address the issue differently than Suozzi but did not receive further comment before press time.

While in Congress, Suozzi coined his famous mantra: “No SALT, no deal” and brought together a coalition of lawmakers from New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois to demand changes to the SALT cap, which limits the amount of state taxes that taxpayers can deduct from their federal tax bill. He worked to either remove or increase the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions in high-tax states, pledging to oppose any sweeping tax measures that didn’t include changes to the SALT cap.

Suozzi noted that Republicans and even some progressive Democrats could try and keep that cap in place, but he stressed that he would do everything he can to make sure it would not only pass through the House, but also the Senate.

“All members of the ‘Squad’ voted against it,” Suozzi said, referring to legislation to restore the full deduction that he pushed in 2019. “I had a battle with the far lefties as well as the far righties and I will continue to do so for the policies that benefit my constituents. I have always been willing to stand up to members of my own party when I think they’re wrong to fight for my constituents.”

Suozzi addressed a common conservative argument against the SALT deduction, which claims taxpayers nationwide subsidize New York’s high tax structure. Suozzi said that New York remains the largest net contributor to the federal government, consistently contributing more than it receives compared to any other state in the nation.

“We will let you deduct any state and local taxes you pay from your income, so that you don’t pay taxes on the taxes you’ve already paid,” Suozzi said. “You shouldn’t be taxed on the taxes you pay to the state and local governments. So, you’re not double taxed and taxed on that same money. It’s not money that’s been available to you. It’s been taken by the state and local governments.”