Editorial: Nation's No. 1 donor state faces a new burden - The Buffalo News

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Editorial: Nation's No. 1 donor state faces a new burden

New Yorkers should pay close attention to what state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had to report the other day about the gap between what they send to Washington in taxes versus what the state receives in federal spending.

It meant that last year New York State taxpayers received a paltry 84 cents for every dollar sent to Washington, far below the national average.

The only ones who fared worse in 2016, on a per capita basis, were residents of New Jersey, North Dakota and Connecticut.

The comptroller estimated that New York sent $41 billion more in federal taxes to Washington last year than was returned in total payments that include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and funding for transportation and education, as reported in The News. That number, the highest in the nation, more than doubled since 2013, DiNapoli estimated, when New Yorkers sent $19.9 billion more to Washington than it received.

Taxpayers in New York State, with 6.1 percent of the nation’s population, paid 8.3 percent of the $3.1 trillion the federal government collected.

As maddening as that information is already, New Yorkers have something even worse to fear: the Republican effort to eliminate the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes.

That is part of what is billed as tax cut legislation. But if that provision survives, New York and a few other high-tax states will be hit with a huge tax increase to finance tax cuts elsewhere.

New York is under financial assault from Washington in other ways, including the so-far unsuccessful effort to slash Medicaid spending. Provisions reimbursing public hospitals for treating the poor and providing health insurance for children have expired. If they are not reinstated, the state will be out well over a billion dollars.

But it’s the tax deductibility issue that is finding Republicans and Democrats in Western New York on the same side. Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Tom Reed, R-Corning, both serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, where they can head off this destructive proposal. They and other committee members met recently with the president, who unfortunately did not mention the state and local tax deduction issue. Instead he focused on his own main point: “We must make your tax code simple and fair. It’s too complicated. People can’t do it.”

Those are wonderful goals, but it can’t happen on the backs of New Yorkers who already pull more than their share of the federal load. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has criticized the plan for offering enormous tax cuts for the very wealthy. Responsible observers have said it would ratchet up the federal debt by $2 trillion to $4 trillion.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, who as an early Trump supporter might have the most sway with the president on the issue, said, “I share the concerns of many when it comes to the elimination of state and local deductions.”

The message has to get through: Do not eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes.

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