Three Republican congressmen from Long Island vowed Friday to defeat an extension beyond 2025 of the $10,000 cap for deductions of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns, asserting their leverage within the GOP’s slim House majority can make the difference.
Reducing SALT’s impact on taxpayers was among the policy issues that Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D’Esposito and Nick LaLota discussed at an event organized by the Long Island Association.
The business group did not invite the Island's other congressman, Republican George Santos, to participate. It called him a “distraction” because of the ongoing investigations into his campaign finances and his admission of lying about his education and employment history. Still, the subject of Santos, from a Nassau/Queens district, came up three times in the 45-minute conversation at Bethpage State Park.
On SALT, Garbarino, of Bayport, said, “There are [House] members that want to extend the [$10,000 SALT deduction] cap …[But] we have a lot of Republicans from New York, not to mention three from New Jersey and a couple from California” who oppose a cap extension.
“Where the [GOP] majority is only five [members], the [cap extension] bill won’t pass,” he said, referring exclusively to Republican votes.
D’Esposito, of Island Park, agreed, saying House members from New York State recently joined members from Florida to defeat an amendment from a Texas member that would have potentially limited the amount of federal recovery dollars for areas harmed by natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
“In the next few months, you will see that we will be steps closer to restoring that [SALT] deduction than we are right now,” D’Esposito said.
Experts who follow tax policy were skeptical.
“SALT is not really going to have any likelihood of changing in this Congress,” which adjourns in late 2024, said Will McBride, vice president of federal tax policy at the Tax Foundation, a think tank in Washington.
“These things aren’t addressed until it’s an emergency and SALT doesn’t expire until after next year’s election,” he said.
McBride and others said the SALT cap was adopted in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by then-President Donald Trump, a Republican. Later, Democratic lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to remove or raise the cap when their party took back control of the House and U.S. Senate. Some Senate Democrats opposed the move.
At Friday’s discussion, Santos, not SALT, was the first topic raised by LIA CEO Matt Cohen, who served as moderator.
He asked if the region would be shortchanged because Santos sits on no committees due to pending investigations, including one announced Thursday by the House Committee on Ethics.
The congressmen vowed to address the needs of Santos’ constituents as well as those of their own constituents. “The three of us are going to represent Long Island as a whole,” D’Esposito said.
He then took the first of multiple shots at Santos. “George Santos needs to go,” D’Esposito said to moderate applause from the audience of 350 executives. “He should not be serving as a member of Congress.”
In response, Santos issued a statement to Newsday: "It is unfortunate that fellow Long Island members of the New York delegation aim to exclude rather than find a way to work in a cordial and collaborative manner. As a legislative body, some of our top priorities should be tackling high inflation as well as reducing high levels of crime that are specifically plaguing Long Islanders."
Garbarino, a member of the ethics committee, didn't mention Santos.
Asked why Santos wasn’t invited to the event, Cohen told Newsday: “Today’s event included a substantive conversation about federal issues impacting Long Island, ranging from small business support to SALT and the debt ceiling, with three members of our congressional delegation. We wanted to focus on these topics without distraction.”
Besides SALT and Santos, the congressmen discussed the United States' continuing support of Ukraine in its war with Russia, saying more oversight is needed in how aid dollars and military equipment are used.
“There needs to be a strong audit to ensure that when the United States taxpayers are sending money overseas to an endeavor like this, that it goes where we want it to go,” said LaLota, of Amityville.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Republican Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D'Esposito and Nick LaLota said they will oppose efforts to extend the $10,000 cap for deductions of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns.
- Experts said the SALT cap is unlikely to be taken up by Congress until after the 2024 election because there's no urgency to act before the cap expires after 2025.
- Rep. George Santos wasn't invited to the Long Island Association event, but still came up in the discussion.