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Let’s Fix Our Broken Tax Code, But Not at the Expense of Hard Working New Yorkers

November 13, 2017
Press Release
Op-ed Written by Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-01)

With seven brackets and countless rules, the United States tax code is broken and desperately in need of repair to work better for the American worker. This overcomplicated and confusing maze has made our nation uncompetitive globally with companies, jobs and liquidity moving abroad. We need bold, pro-growth reform that improves our business climate, creates more good paying, private sector jobs, and allows every hardworking American to keep more of their well earned paycheck. 

Anyone who has ever filled out a tax form knows that the entire system is a convoluted mess that needs to be simplified. On top of this, the structure allows for special interest breaks while the average American family struggles just to make ends meet. The goal should be for more hardworking families to actually see the fruits of their labor. 

We also need to make our tax code more competitive globally. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world at 35%. The current tax code is pushing jobs overseas, hurting our businesses and driving out good paying private sector jobs. We must reform the code to allow our manufacturers to compete better abroad and create more “Made in America” products. Our broken tax code incentivizes the import of cheap foreign products but doesn’t do enough to help our manufacturers or farmers export their products. I believe the solution is simple: we must lower the corporate tax rate in order to make America more competitive in the global marketplace to create additional jobs and grow the economy. 

However, as a New York Congressman, representing a New York Congressional District, I know all too well the challenges of our high cost of living, exacerbated by high state and local taxes. Individuals and families on Long Island are working so hard just to make ends meet. Income levels that may be considered upper middle class in other parts of our country don’t go anywhere near as far in New York. For too many families, if their State and Local Tax deduction (SALT) is eliminated, under the current plan, the amount they owe the federal government will actually increase. That is the most important reason why I oppose the current proposal in its current form.

I view the elimination of the SALT deduction as a geographic redistribution of wealth, picking winners and losers. The proposal taxes additional funds from a state like New York in order to pay for deeper tax cuts elsewhere. For anyone who incorrectly argues that the rest of the country subsidizes our state, I would point out that New York is a net contributor to the federal coffers with regards to both tax policy and spending policy and that is even with the SALT deduction. 

It is not lost on me though that the reason why our state and local tax deduction is so high is because our state and local taxes are so high. That is especially why tax relief needs to be urgently provided by all levels. There is so much that can be done at all levels of government to help make Long Island more affordable so that families can stay together, younger generations can afford to raise a family here and seniors can afford to stay. 

If I am not fighting for my home state and home district, I cannot expect someone else from some other state to do it for me. I would love to be able to get to a YES and provide desperately needed tax relief for my constituents and all Americans, but this bill is not there yet, and I will not rest advocating for a needed improvement on this important issue.

Congressman Lee Zeldin, member of the House Financial Services Committee, represents the First Congressional District of New York.