Federal tax plan may hit Long Islanders hardest

A residential home in Shirley, New York on October 10, 2017.

By Kaitlyn Martin and Nick Spennato 

The Tump Administration’s newest tax plan seeks to remove State and Local Income Tax deductions, a move that could cost Long Island an extra $4.4 billion according to the Long Island Association.

The removal of State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions from federal tax returns would hit the residents of Suffolk and Nassau Counties particularly hard compared to the rest of the country, as their property taxes already rank among the highest in the nation. Nassau’s property taxes are among the ten highest of the nation’s 586 counties according to a study by ATTOM Data Solutions.

“It’s going to be painful for anyone who itemizes their deductions,” tax attorney Karen Tenenbaum said. “If you own a home and have a certain income level, you’d be losing a great advantage.”

In 2015, the US Census Bureau put Long Island’s home ownership at more than 80 percent, with the median income for those households being around $100,000 and $90,000 in Nassau and Suffolk respectively. Most homeowners in these demographics would save money by choosing an itemized deduction, rather than the national standard, according to the IRS website.

While President Trump had said that small-business owners and the everyday American will come out on top when the GOP’s tax reformation was unveiled, concerns over personal finances may overshadow business savings for some.

“As a business owner it’s good,” Reading Specialists of Long Island owner Cheryl Orlassino said. “What I don’t like is that they’re lowering the tax rate for the very wealthy…we’re going to be more in debt, and the Republicans aren’t saying how they’re going to be making up for that.”

Long Island is often viewed as a more Republican area of New York compared to its New York City neighbor, but that does not mean its Republican representatives will comfortably ignore their constituents’ concerns. Rep. Lee Zeldin said in an email that he is a proud co-sponsor of the Property Tax Reduction Act of 2017, and understands the public’s worries.  

My biggest concerns relate to the State and Local Tax deduction,” Zeldin said. “It’s imperative that our local residents aren’t subject to double and triple taxation, and that they retain the ability to deduct local taxes and reduce their federal tax bill.”

Zeldin believes the proposed tax plan will undergo many changes in the coming weeks, but there is little that can ease the worries of lower-income homeowners right now.

“My family will see an increase in our property taxes,” Tristan Arnau, a part-time merchandiser for Bimbo Bakeries, said. “My parents already struggle to pay what is expected of us as homeowners. This is unacceptable and impacts the people that can’t afford it.”   

Whether or not the new plan will ever manifest will only become clear in the weeks to come, while Long Islanders will continue to bear some of the highest taxes in the country. In the meantime, much of the finer details have been left to members of Congress to hash out.