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Andrew Cuomo: Every New Yorker will be hurt by GOP tax overhaul

By Andrew M. Cuomo
Special to The News

Republicans in Congress said they were going to pass tax relief for the middle class, but they did the exact opposite. The GOP tax plan is a tax cut for corporations and the rich. While the topic is complicated, here is the inarguable fact: 50 percent of the tax cut goes to the wealthiest one percent of Americans. And it is paid for on the backs of New York’s working- and middle-class families.

This bill is the ultimate fraud, and it will deliver a death blow to the economy in Western New York and across the state.

The plan is funded largely by eliminating or capping deductions of state and local taxes. It will hurt New York more than any other state: three million New Yorkers – including nearly 20 percent of taxpayers in Western New York – will pay $16 billion more in taxes. The plan essentially uses New York to pay for the tax cut in other states. Twelve states are hit the hardest by eliminating state and local deductions, and they are all Democratic states.

In New York, five of nine Republican representatives bucked their political bosses and joined their Democratic colleagues to oppose this bill because they recognized that it would cause irreparable harm to our state’s long-term competitiveness.
Congressman Chris Collins and the three other members who supported this unfair and unequal plan voted to take money from their constituents and send it to corporations and wealthy people in other states.

Now, to shore up support from their party pawns, Republicans are proposing a so-called compromise that would allow people to deduct up to $10,000 in income and property taxes. They claim this provision will protect their constituents. That’s baloney.

Even with the cap, rolling back state and local deductibility will immediately increase taxes on 129,000 taxpayers in the Western New York counties represented by Collins, or nearly 15 percent of taxpayers.

And in the long run, every single constituent in Collins’ district will be impacted. As the Republicans, including Collins, have long argued, higher taxes will result in people leaving New York. Now Collins is increasing taxes on the wealthiest who pay most of the taxes.

Faced with a sharp increase in their taxes, higher earners will be incentivized to leave the district and the state and take their tax revenue with them, crippling local and state government.

In the counties represented in full or part by Collins – Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston and Ontario – Collins raises taxes on the taxpayers who account for more than 40 percent of state income tax revenue generated. If only half of these people left New York, revenue would plummet 20 percent across the region.

Once that happens and a large amount of tax revenue is lost, governments will be forced to either raise property taxes on the remaining people in the district or drastically cut spending for schools, roads and critical programs that Western New Yorkers depend on. In the end, all New Yorkers lose. Collins’s argument is akin to committing arson and then saying, “I only lit the match, it was the fire that burned down the house.”

In the meantime, it undoes all the good work we have done in Western New York. Today, every income tax rate is lower than the day I took office and we capped property taxes increases at 2 percent. The Republican tax proposal will raise property and income taxes effectively 20 percent – overnight.

I can understand why a congressman from Arkansas would support this, but why would a New York congressman agree to tax his constituents to subsidize other states? New York is already the largest donor state in the nation, sending $48 billion more to the federal government in taxes than it gets back in federal spending and services.
Now Collins is fighting to send even more of your money out of New York to the federal government.

There’s still time to stop this assault on New York. Collins and our Republican delegation must call on their colleagues to retain the ability to deduct all state and local taxes from your federal returns.

Ironically, while taking this ability from individuals, this bill allows big corporations to deduct their state and local taxes.

Treating New Yorkers fairly is the right thing to do. I don’t care if you’re a Republican congressperson or a Democratic congressperson, this is very simple: are you more loyal to your political party boss or are you there to represent the people in your district?

Andrew M. Cuomo is governor of New York.

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