To be fair, it’s not just New York that thinks their wealthiest taxpayers have a constitutional right to get reimbursed for the state’s high tax rates. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland have joined the lawsuit filed by Andrew Cuomo and AG Barbara Underwood, announced yesterday morning. They want to undo the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes passed as part of the tax-reform bill in December, claiming that limiting such reimbursements violates the Constitution.
Okay … who wants to tell her? Oh, let’s not see so many hands …
The 2017 federal tax law, which resulted from a hyper-partisan and rushed process, drastically reduced the deduction by capping it at $10,000. An analysis by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance shows that the cap will increase New Yorkers’ federal taxes by $14.3 billion in 2018 alone, and an additional $121 billion between 2019 and 2025. As set forth in the complaint, the law flies in the face of centuries of precedent, which establishes constitutional limits on the federal government’s ability to use its tax power to interfere with the sovereign authority of the states.
For the entire history of the United States, every federal income tax law protected the sovereign interests of the states by providing a deduction for all or a significant portion of state and local taxes. This uninterrupted history demonstrates that the unprecedented cap on the SALT deduction is unconstitutional, as the lawsuit notes.
Er, no it doesn’t. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the federal government to reimburse the cost of state taxes, which are after all entirely within the control of the state. There is no such thing as an “uninterrupted history” clause within the Constitution, which makes Underwood’s quod erat demonstratum absurd.
This is also nonsense:
Policymakers openly talked about coercing States like New York to change their policy choices. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the change was intended to “send a message” to states to get them to change their taxation and fiscal policies. Stephen Moore, who advised the Trump campaign on tax policy, said it even more bluntly, calling the SALT changes “Death to Democrats.”
Er … so? That argument didn’t work on the so-called “travel ban” executive order when it came to actual identity issues and Donald Trump himself. It’s not going to work when it comes to a statute passed by Congress, especially since Mnuchin and Moore have no role in the legislative process. Had the bill singled out New York for disparate treatment, that might be grounds for judicial intervention, but it doesn’t. It sets the same $10,000 cap on deductions in all states, a level which ensures that the only people impacted by this policy will be those in the top quintile of earners nationwide anyway.
The argument that a federal tax policy applied evenly across all states somehow violates state sovereignty and acts in a discriminatory fashion is equally absurd. The reform bill has no direct impact on the rights of states to set and collect their own taxes. Congress has its own sovereignty and is not required to indemnify states from the impact of their tax policies. Perhaps it was politically expedient for Congress to do so in the past, or perhaps the correlation of high taxes and high populations led to friendlier Congresses in the past for states like New York, California, Maryland, and others. This Congress had enough representatives from other states who were tired of having their own citizens pay to reimburse these states as a way to protect politicians from accountability for their tax policies.
New York’s sovereignty is precisely the solution for this issue. Cuomo and the New York legislature can simply change their tax code to save their citizens the extra cost, which originates from the state of New York and not from Congress. They want the money without the political headache, and they want the federal judiciary to rescue them from the consequences of their high-tax policies.
This is just a threadbare attempt to shift the blame for those tax policies, and it’s doomed to failure. But it does raise the question, as Twitchy notes: Why are Democrats trying to get a tax cut for the rich?
Your friendly reminder that this tax law change affects almost no one under $150K a year, which means this is a tax on the top quintile of earners.
Of course, it really hits the richest 10% the hardest. It's quite progressive that way. https://t.co/OquTk9DvdL
— PoliMath (@politicalmath) July 17, 2018