Loss of Deductions Unites Tax Plan Opponents

Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone, right, has joined a number of elected officials pressing for rejection of a tax reform bill now working its way through Congress.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced an online petition yesterday that is intended to galvanize opposition to the federal tax-policy legislation that he said would result in significantly higher taxes for Long Island residents and businesses. 

Mr. Bellone joined Legislator Bridget Fleming, Suffolk Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, Matt Cohen, vice president of the Long Island Association, Laureen Harris, president of the Association for a Better Long Island, Gina Coletti, co-chairwoman of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, and small-business owners in Hauppauge yesterday to announce his opposition to the plan, which took an important step toward passage on Tuesday when the Senate Budget Committee voted along party lines to approve it. Several protesters were removed from the committee’s meeting and arrested.

Also on Tuesday, Representative Lee Zeldin of New York’s First Congressional District, along with Peter King and Tom Suozzi, who represent the Second and Third Districts, respectively, joined state and local officials at a press conference in Hauppauge to voice objection to the House of Representatives’ present version of the tax plan. 

In a release issued by his communications director, Mr. Zeldin said that while he likes many aspects of the plan, “too many Long Islanders would not see the tax relief they desperately need and deserve.”

The full Senate is expected to consider the proposal, which would have to be reconciled with the House version of it, as early as today. 

Among the objections to the plan cited by its opponents is a limitation or elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes.

In a letter to President Trump on Tuesday, Mr. Bellone wrote “with a profound sense of urgency to ask for your help to stop legislation currently under consideration by Congress that could result in significantly higher taxes for middle class families. Specifically, I am urging you to veto any legislation that limits or eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes that has been part of the federal tax code since its inception in 1913.” 

The president is lobbying Congress to pass the legislation. Republicans, in control of Congress and the White House, are under intense pressure to pass significant legislation before year’s end, having repeatedly failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or develop a plan to rebuild infrastructure. Top donors to the party and its candidates are reportedly angry about its failures and pledging to withhold contributions until it notches a significant legislative victory. 

Loss of the deduction for state and local taxes would have a disproportionate impact on Long Islanders, Mr. Bellone wrote, citing a Long Island Association analysis concluding that it could result in an annual cumulative tax increase of $4.4 billion on Long Island. “Given that Long Islanders already send significantly more tax dollars to Washington than they ever get in return — approximately $23 billion a year — this additional tax burden would add insult to injury, and could devastate the local economy.”  

Long Island taxpayers at virtually every income level could face a tax increase greater than $1,000 per year, Mr. Bellone wrote. “The average annual increase for households with an income level between $25,000 to $200,000 would range from $1,356 to $3,980 and the overall average impact across all income levels could be a staggering $7,794,” he wrote, citing the Long Island Association’s report.