OP-ED: New Jersey Needs Tax Relief
Nobody knows more than the people of New Jersey the pressure that high taxes can put on a family, small business or senior on a fixed income. After decades of tax, spend and borrow policies foisted upon us by Trenton politicians from both parties, we live in the highest taxed state in America. People are voting with their feet and moving to lower tax states, draining New Jersey of future teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs and community leaders.
While fixing Trenton isn’t possible from my seat as a Member of Congress, passing common sense federal policy that helps New Jersey’s middle-class is within my reach. Currently, that means achieving the first comprehensive federal tax reform in 31 years.
As for the misleading reports that this tax reform would automatically be bad for New Jersey, they are simply not true. Worse, they are counterproductive to honest public discourse. I haven’t been in Washington very long, but I’ve been here long enough to know that there are too many members of the press who care about being first rather than being accurate, and too many politicians who care about being re-elected more than doing what is right by their constituents.
Sadly, legislators willing to dive deeply into policy, ask tough questions, demand real answers, and forge compromise where nobody gets 100% of what they want, are a dying breed. I have tried to be different. I have sought to work with people of differing opinions and political parties to move our country forward and find solutions to the difficult challenges facing America. So, while others were busy churning out press releases that amount to throwing spitballs from the sidelines, I’ve been at the negotiating table fighting to get tax reform that benefits you.
And it’s starting to pay off.
My priorities on tax reform have been clear: 1) Moving from a high-rate system with lots of loopholes that usually just benefit the wealthy, to a simpler, fairer system that lowers rates and closes loopholes, which is good for everyone; 2) Increasing the child tax credit from $1,000 per child to at least $1,600 and adding a tax credit for those caring for non-child dependents, like an elderly parent; 3) Doubling the standard deduction to $24,000 for a family; 4) Preserving the State-and-Local Tax (SALT) deduction; 5) Finding a compromise that preserves deductions for mortgage interest and medical expenses; and 6) Helping businesses grow so they can create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for all.
It is important to note that when this process started, I was one of only 20 Republicans to vote against President Trump and party leaders. I told them that I would be a “NO” on tax reform unless the SALT deduction was preserved at an acceptable level. I pushed and pressed. They listened.
According to data direct from the IRS, allowing property tax deductions up to $10,000—which I fought for and won—will cover nearly every taxpayer in the Third Congressional District. Most of those not covered have high incomes, and are already unable to use the deduction because they pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. Keep in mind, that only 4 out of 10 New Jerseyans even use the SALT deduction, while 60% use the standard deduction, which will double as part of this plan.
Don’t take my word for it. Read the Washington Post’s Fact Checker – not always a friend to Republicans – which declares the following: “Democrats have spread far and wide the false claim that families making less than $86,100 on average will face a hefty tax hike. Actually, it’s the opposite. Most families in that income range would get a tax cut.”
Moreover, this tax reform will benefit New Jersey employers and employees at a time when Trenton is poised to pass crushing tax hikes that repel jobs and force more people to leave the state. Taxes will be cut by 40% for most companies. They will also be incentivized to bring trapped foreign earnings - estimated at over $2.5 trillion - back home to reinvest in our economy, not overseas.
As negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate bills get underway in the coming days, I will continue to push at the negotiating table for even more middle-class tax relief, like an increase in deductions for excessive medical bills and mortgage interest. I can’t assure success in everything, but I can promise you that nobody will fight harder to cut your taxes than me. I appreciate the constructive comments and input from constituents during this process, and remain grateful for the opportunity to represent you.