By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Happy Tax Day! As millions of procrastinating Americans rushed to file their tax returns to beat the midnight deadline on April 15, three members of New York’s congressional delegation re-introduced legislation to give residents of large, expensive cities like New York a big break.
Congress members Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan), Nita Lowey (D-Westchester) and Steve Israel (D-Long Island) announced the re-introduction of the Tax Equity Act, a tax-reform bill that would adjust federal tax brackets to reflect the actual cost of living in major metropolitan areas. The lawmakers contend that their districts are home to constituents who pay higher taxes and deal with higher basic living costs than most Americans.
In areas where living costs are higher than the national average, this bill would require the IRS to adapt tax brackets accordingly. It would not affect the taxes of those with living costs below the national average, the lawmakers said.
“It is common knowledge that a dollar in New York buys you less than a dollar elsewhere,” said Nadler, whose congressional district includes parts of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. “The Tax Equity Act is a practical approach to making tax burdens more fair, based on the actual local costs of living in New York, Houston, Miami, or wherever. The goal is simply to ensure that hard-working New Yorkers and others – the vast majority of whom are not wealthy – are treated fairly by the income tax system,” he said.
“When it comes to the tax code, one size just doesn’t fit all middle-class families,” Lowey said. “Residents of the New York metropolitan area pay more for housing, food, and utilities, not to mention some of the highest property taxes in the country. Making ends meet is difficult in our region even for those with good jobs. It is only fair for the tax code to reflect that reality, and the Tax Equity Act is a good step in that direction,” she said.
“New Yorkers pay some of the highest taxes in the country while also paying some of the highest housing, food and gas costs. Middle-class and working families in New York are taxed as if they were rich, and that’s often not the case,” Israel said. “The Tax Equity Act is a commonsense bill that makes our taxes reflects our reality,” he said.
Many residents of the nation’s most expensive areas are taxed at the same rate as the rest of the country, yet must spend a greater portion of their incomes on basic necessities such as food and housing, Nadler said. The result, according to Nadler, is an unfair burden on New Yorkers and residents of other expensive metropolitan areas, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Washington DC and others.
The Tax Equity Act of 2013 would ensure that this burden is eliminated and would require people to only pay their fair share of taxes, the three lawmakers said.
It was not clear how far the bill would go in the House, where Republicans hold the majority.