New York to cut state level tax breaks while suing over federal tax cuts

You may have heard that New York Governor (and long-shot POTUS hopeful) Andrew Cuomo is suing the Trump administration over the cruel and unfair tax cuts which nearly everyone in the country received this year. His chief complaint has to do with the cap put on SALT (state and local tax) deductions. Cuomo claims that New Yorkers have come to rely on these deductions and they represent a long-standing “pact” between the government and the people.

In light of that, it’s rather hard to explain why the very same Governor is now looking at cutting back on the STAR rebate program (New York State School Tax Relief Program). It’s a wildly popular program (enacted by our last Republican governor, by the way) which offers rebates to people who own their own home and reside there as their primary residence, and who make less than $500K per year. But scheduled increases to the benefits are now on the chopping block as a cost-cutting measure. (Press Connects)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to freeze the growth in the STAR rebates that homeowners receive on their school taxes as a cost-cutting move in the state budget.

STAR rebates were expected to grow at 2 percent a year, but Cuomo wants to end the increase, saying New Yorkers are already getting property-tax relief through a separate rebate check program.

Also, he argued, the growth in property taxes has slowed with the installation of a tax cap in 2011.

The Governor is arguing that everyone is already getting sufficient tax relief, so maintaining the current scaling of the program is no longer needed. Really? The STAR program has been around for more than two decades. There’s a second level of it available to seniors which can really cut back on their tax bill if they are on a fixed income. Isn’t that something “they’ve come to rely on” after all this time? Doesn’t it sound as if the state government had “made a pact” with the taxpayers?

Of course it does. But the main difference here is that it’s a state program and not something endorsed by President Trump. The lawsuit over the federal tax cuts has nothing to do with looking out for the interests of taxpayers and everything to do with Cuomo trying to look like a national leader in the #RESIST movement.

Meanwhile, the Governor’s own constituents have been catching on to the games he’s playing. This Wall Street Journal article describes how Cuomo’s opposition to the recent tax cuts may be somewhat popular in the Big Apple, but his upstate residents aren’t wild about it at all. They sum up the situation by saying, “many residents deduct less than $10,000 in state and local taxes and can benefit from the expanded standard deduction.”

That part should have been obvious from the beginning and I’ve pointed it out here repeatedly. The changes to the SALT deductions only affect New Yorkers making well over $150K per year. Sure, that means that most of your investment bankers on Wall Street are losing out on a deduction, but in case the Governor hasn’t checked, the average income is still around $50K. Most of his upstate constituents are not affected at all. And at the same time, they are getting a significantly larger standardized deduction as well as bringing home more money in their paychecks every week. Did he really think they were going to be supporting his lawsuit so the state could help take more money out of their pockets?

Governor Cuomo has been engaging in a frantic display of progressive political posturing to build his national profile. Unfortunately, these moves wind up being detrimental to working class families across the state. And the real tragedy is that the state is so completely dysfunctional at this point that he’ll probably still be reelected this year.