FDU Poll: New Jersey Voters Want Property Tax Deduction Restored

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

Republicans and Democrats in New Jersey can’t agree on much, but they’re united in their belief that the $10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes should be removed. Almost two-thirds of voters in the Garden State (63 percent) say that the full property tax deduction should be restored – a figure that includes half of voters who say that the cap hasn’t increased their taxes.

“It would make sense for this to be a partisan issue, as it’s tied to Trump and to Democratic members of Congress,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of government and politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll. “But if there’s one thing that can transcend partisanship, it’s cold, hard cash.”

In 2017, the Republican Congress and President Trump capped the amount of state and local taxes that could be claimed as a deduction on federal taxes to $10,000. That means that anyone who was paying more than $10,000 a year in local taxes – a group that mostly includes residents of high tax states like New Jersey, New York and Connecticut – would see a tax increase, though that might have been offset by other changes in the tax law. In 2020, the mean homeowner in New Jersey paid about $9,000 in property taxes, though mean taxes in many counties, especially in North Jersey, are above $10,000. Democratic members of Congress in New Jersey have said that restoring the cap is a top priority, though progress has, so far, been limited.

“The SALT cap was largely seen as an attack on Democratic states,” said Cassino. “Even though it’s mostly impacting residents of wealthier areas in North Jersey, support for restoring the deduction is pretty close to universal.”

While there are very few issues in national politics today that unite Democrats and Republicans, New Jersey voters from across the political spectrum want the full SALT deduction restored. Sixty-three percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans say that they want the full tax break back, no different from the 60 percent of independent voters who say the same. Even the fact that the change was made under former President Trump does nothing to change these views. Half of the respondents were randomly assigned to be asked a form of the question that mentioned Trump’s role in the cap, but their responses were no different from the responses of those that were asked the question without noting Trump.

The bipartisan nature of views on the SALT deduction are likely due to the widespread impact of the cap on New Jersey voters. About a third of voters (35 percent) say that the cap has increased their taxes, a figure that’s no different among Republicans (36 percent), Democrats (34 percent), or independents (35 percent). A smaller number (28 percent) say that it hasn’t increased their taxes, and a surprisingly large number of voters (30 percent) say that they’re not sure if it increased their taxes or not. And these figures don’t include the quarter of voters (26 percent) who say that they haven’t even heard of the SALT cap.

“For all the coverage that the SALT cap has gotten in the press, it doesn’t directly impact everyone,” said Cassino. “Renters, people with mortgages, anyone who doesn’t itemize their deductions, they may not even notice the difference.”

Not surprisingly, opposition to the SALT deduction cap is concentrated among voters most likely to own homes: older and more educated people. Sixty-five percent of New Jersey voters with a college degree say that the cap should be lifted, compared with half (51 percent) of those who never attended college. Similarly, 73 percent of voters age 65 and up say that the full deduction should be restored, compared to just 43 percent of those under 35. This relationship can be observed directly, as well: 81 percent of respondents who say that the SALT cap has increased their taxes want the deduction restored, along with half of the respondents (48 percent) who say that their taxes haven’t gone up.

“There may be good reasons to support the SALT cap, as it’s a tax increase that mostly falls on wealthier people,” said Cassino. “But there aren’t that many people who see their taxes go up and think it’s a good thing.”

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted between June 9 and June 16, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey. Voters were randomly chosen from the list and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (608) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (195) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list. The survey covers 803 registered voters in New Jersey, ages 18 and older, and was conducted entirely in English. The survey was carried out by Braun Research, Inc, of Princeton, New Jersey. Of the interviews, 123 were conducted over landlines, the remainder via cell phones.

The data were weighted to be representative of the registered voter population of New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, we see design effects of approximately 1.14.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 803 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-3.46 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.94 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

803 New Jersey Registered Voters

Woman                         52%                 N = 407

Man                              47%                 N = 364

Some Other Way          1%                  N = 7

 

18-24   12%                 N = 93

25-34   13%                 N = 101

35-44   13%                 N = 102

45-64   37%                 N = 293

65+    25%                   N = 199

 

Democrat (with leaners)            46%                 N = 371

Independent                              22%                 N = 172

Republican (with leaners)         32%                 N = 260

 

White                                      70%           N = 560

Black                                        9%           N = 75

Hispanic                                   8%           N = 61

Asian                                        4%           N = 31

Other                                       10%          N = 77

 

HS or Less                          12%           N = 95

Some College                     31%           N = 246

College degree or more      56%           N = 448

 

 

Question wording and order

NJ1, NJ2, NJ4-NJ6 released on 21 June; NJ 10-15 released on 25 June; NJ3 released on 8 July

NJ7. The tax law passed in 2017 limited the amount of property taxes that homeowners can deduct from their federal taxes. Before the change, they could deduct all of their property taxes; now, they can only deduct $10,000. How much have you heard or read about this issue?

  1. Nothing
  2. A Little
  3. Some
  4. A Lot
  5. [Dk/Ref]

NJ8A. [Excluding those who answered “Nothing” or “Don’t Know/Refused” in NJ7, a total of 253 respondents. Half of the respondents were randomly assigned to this form; the remainder assigned to NJ8B] Restoring the property tax deduction that was cut under President Trump would benefit many people in New Jersey, but those benefits would mostly go to homeowners in wealthier suburbs. In your opinion, should the property tax deduction be restored, or not?

  1. Should be restored
  2. Should not be restored
  3. [Dk/Ref]

NJ8B. [Excluding those who answered “Nothing” or “Don’t Know/Refused” in NJ7, a total of 253 respondents. Half of respondents randomly assigned to this form; the remainder assigned to NJ8A]  Restoring the property tax deduction would benefit many people in New Jersey, but those benefits would mostly go to homeowners in wealthier suburbs. In your opinion, should the property tax deduction be restored, or not?

  1. Should be restored
  2. Should not be restored
  3. [Dk/Ref]

NJ9. To the best of your knowledge, has the limit on the property tax deduction made you, personally, pay more in taxes, or not, or are you not sure?

  1. Has increased my taxes
  2. Has not increased my taxes
  3. Not sure
  4. [Dk/Ref]

 

 

Release Tables

Party ID
How much have you heard about the SALT deduction limit?
Overall
Dem
Ind
Rep
Nothing at all
26
26
21
26
A Little
22
25
21
20
Some
19
20
21
20
A Lot
27
24
32
32
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
5
5
5
3

 

Party ID
Should the property tax deduction be fully restored?
Overall
Dem
Ind
Rep
Should be restored
63
63
60
64
Should not be restored
24
22
23
27
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
13
15
17
9

 

Sex
Education
Should the property tax deduction be fully restored?
Overall
Men
Women
No College
Some College
College+
Should be restored
63
64
63
51
61
65
Should not be restored
24
26
22
29
23
24
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
13
10
15
20
15
11

 

Age
Should the property tax deduction be fully restored?
Overall
18-34
35-64
65+
Should be restored
63
43
65
73
Should not be restored
24
36
26
15
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
13
21
9
12

 

Party ID
Has the SALT cap increased your taxes?
Overall
Dem
Ind
Rep
Has increased my taxes
35
34
35
36
Has not increased my taxes
28
26
28
32
Not Sure
30
32
28
25
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
7
8
9
7

 

Taxes
Should the property tax deduction be fully restored?
Overall
Gone Up
Not Gone Up
Not Sure
Should be restored
63
81
48
52
Should not be restored
24
15
40
21
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
13
4
12
26

 

Question
Should the property tax deduction be fully restored?
Overall
Trump
No Trump
Should be restored
63
61
65
Should not be restored
24
23
26
Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)
13
17
9

 

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