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NY's top Democrats team up against federal tax overhaul

The state’s governor and senior senator teamed up Monday to urge New York’s congressional delegation to oppose a provision in the federal tax overhaul plan that they say could be harmful to the state’s taxpayers and economy.

Speaking outside a suburban home in Albany County, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the federal plan to get rid of the state and local tax deductions “double taxation.” Schumer said middle-class New Yorkers will pay more money in taxes each year if the proposal is approved.

They cited a study from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which found the GOP plan would cause 23 percent of New York taxpayers making $65,900 to $111,100 to see an average tax increase of $460, and 42 percent of taxpayers making between $111,100 and $240,900 to see an average tax increase of $1,960 next year.

“That’s a lot of money out of the pockets of middle-class and upper-middle-class New Yorkers,” Schumer said.

Part of the reason that New Yorkers would pay more is because the state has one of the highest property tax rates in the nation.

Schumer and Cuomo are calling on the state’s congressional delegation to vote as a bloc to oppose the proposal. Schumer said if New York’s delegation joins with congressional members from two other key states — California and New Jersey, where property taxes are also relatively high — then they have enough votes to defeat the plan.

“That bill would fail,” Schumer predicted.

The two leading Democratic politicians conceded that it might be hard for some of the state’s Republican Congress members to stand up to the GOP House leadership, but they say it’s necessary to oppose their leadership in order to protect the state. Cuomo said it’s not about party loyalty, but about representing their constituents. The governor said it’s not about “red” versus “blue” political points of view.

“The color here is green,” Cuomo said. “Red, Republicans are going to pay more green, and Democrats are going to pay more green.”

Cuomo and Schumer said they also are against some compromise proposals that have surfaced in Congress. One would allow homeowners to choose whether to deduct their state and local taxes or their mortgage taxes from their federal income tax. Schumer said that’s not a good choice.

“That’s like saying to an average middle-class New Yorker, ‘Do you want me to chop off your left hand or your right hand?’ ” Schumer said.

Another proposal would prevent only the wealthiest taxpayers from taking the state and local tax deduction. Cuomo said that plan could cause the richest New Yorkers to leave and also harm the state’s economy. He said that could have even bigger repercussions.

“You slow down the economy in New York, you slow down the economy in California, you slow down the economy in the United States of America,” Cuomo said.

Another proposal would strictly limit the amount of money that workers could contribute to their tax-deferred 401(k) retirement plans from the current maximum of $18,000 a year to as low as $2,400 a year. President Donald Trump tweeted that he is against that plan, but Schumer said that does not mean that the proposal is dead.