Sen. Chuck Schumer called on his Republican colleagues Tuesday to remove a cap on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT, when the next round of COVID-19 relief negotiations begins.
House Democrats included a two-year elimination of the SALT deduction cap in a $3 trillion pandemic relief bill that faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said keeping the SALT provision from the House bill is a top priority for Senate Democrats.
“We need to cushion the blow of this virus,” Schumer said at a news conference in Lake Success. “The SALT cap hurts people affected by the virus. It hurts so many of the metropolitan areas like New York and so we want to change it and we will.”
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who pushed for the cap’s repeal, said at the news conference that the SALT cap was “crushing” for New Yorker homeowners.”
“We must have the SALT deduction reinstated,” Suozzi said.
Republican suggestions that New York cut taxes were not the answer, he said.
“Does that really make sense in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic?” Suozzi said. “They want us to cut the police? They want us to cut teachers? They want us to cut health and human services?”
In an emailed statement from a spokesman, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said eliminating the cap on SALT deductions “would change tax law to provide massively expensive gifts to wealthy people in high-tax blue states."
McConnell has said his priority in a new relief package is to shield companies from lawsuits as they reopen from shutdowns. Republicans and President Donald Trump are reportedly working on a $1.3 trillion relief package.
Sea Cliff resident Lisa Cashman, 47, a homemaker, said at the news conference that the pandemic has hurt her family’s income and caused them to spend less on their children’s activities as the SALT cap increased their taxes.
“We’re not seeking a government bailout as a family but to return to the taxes we paid for years and considered part of our financial planning for our children’s futures,” Cashman said.
Long Islanders on average pay about $20,000 in state and local taxes, Schumer said.
“Most families on Long Island pay more than $10,000 in property taxes and state and local taxes so they end up having to pay an increase in taxes" because of the SALT deduction cap, Schumer said.
With the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate potentially in play in November, Schumer said a permanent repeal of the SALT deduction cap would be among his top priorities if he becomes Senate majority leader.
“When we get in the majority we’ll do it permanently,” Schumer said.