Tax Reform

The House passed (218-206) H.R.5377, that temporarily reduces or eliminates the 2017 tax law's $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions by doubling it for married couples for tax year 2019 and eliminating the cap entirely for 2020 and 2021, and it offsets that lost revenue by restoring the top tax rate for individuals at 39.6% for tax years 2020 through 2025 (after which the 2017 law's individual tax cuts expire) and reducing the income threshold at which that top tax rate applies.

The measure also doubles the "above-the-line" tax deduction for the expenses of educators, and it creates a new above-the-line deduction for expenses by first responders.


Supporters of the bill, primarily Democrats, argue that the SALT cap from the beginning has been intended to punish blue states that impose higher taxes in order to provide more services to their residents. They say it has always been considered bad tax policy to tax income twice, and therefore it makes sense to allow individuals to deduct from their taxable federal income the full amount they pay in state and local taxes. They claim that many middle income households have been harmed by the SALT cap, particularly married couples, and that the measure would restore fairness.


Opponents of the bill, primarily Republicans, say they find it ironic that Democrats now want to help the wealthy, pointing out that people with moderate and lower incomes do not need the SALT cap increased. They say that if high tax states are upset because they can no longer easily raise taxes and have the federal government eat the loss, they should simply stop raising taxes. In addition, some left-leaning think tanks also argue against the measure, saying it primarily benefits the rich and that any increases of the highest tax bracket should be used for more progressive purposes.

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