WOODLAND PARK – It’s been more than three years now since a tax reform law capped the federal deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000.
That means nothing in many parts of the country, but New Jersey is not many parts of the country. In a state where property taxes alone often exceed $10,000 a year, the cap adversely impacts many homeowners.
Eliminating the cap has much bipartisan support across the state, which is a rare occurrence in a time of great political divide.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who campaigned against the cap when she was first elected in 2018, organized the “12 days of SALT,” a display on the House floor in December, 2019, to muster support ro eliminate it. The acronym, SALT, has come to stand for state and local taxes.
The House did, in fact, agree to repeal the cap, but it stalled in the Senate.
So on a hot and humid afternoon today, Sherrill visited a park gazebo in this Passaic County town to unveil plans to try again. Enter the Summer of Salt.
A variety of speakers – municipal officials, educators and realtors among them – took turns lambasting the cap.
The latest idea seems to be to include cap repeal in an infrastructure bill now before Congress.
“I won’t relent,” Sherrill said, adding, “You don’t have to be a millionaire to be impacted.”
This actually gets to the heart of the matter.
One problem in gaining support for eliminating the cap – even from some Democrats – is a belief that doing so would benefit the wealthy.
This perception is easy to understand.
A homeowner paying, say, $12,000 a year in property taxes in New Jersey is an average homeowner. But in the eyes of people living in the south, the Midwest or even the west other than California, a homeowner paying that amount of money is rich. So why should they get what others see as a tax break?
The theme today was that high property taxes in New Jersey and other wealthy states impacted by the $10,000 cap like New York sustain a sort of gold standard of services.
“New Jersey has the best public education system in the nation,” Sherrill said.
She also said that the state’s excellent police and fire services benefit the nation.
Sherrill said she often hears that “someone has been trained by a New Jersey cop,” which prompted her to say. “We should not be punished for investing heavily in things that matter to citizens.”