ALBANY—New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Jan. 3 that New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court to continue their lawsuit against the federal government for its unlawful and unprecedented cap on the deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT.
The petition asks the Supreme Court to review an October 2021 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that upheld the district court’s rejection of the states’ suit, which argues that the SALT cap was a politically motivated bid by the former federal administration to interfere with the policy choices of predominantly Democratic states.
“The SALT deduction cap is nothing less than double taxation on New Yorkers,” New York Gov. Hochul said. “Repealing the SALT cap would not only put more money into the pockets of New York families, it would deliver a much-needed boost to New York’s economy. I am proud we are taking this issue to the Supreme Court to continue to fight on behalf of New York taxpayers.”
“This unfair cap has already placed a significant financial burden on countless hardworking, middle-class families in New York, and in the years to come, it is expected to cost New York taxpayers more than $100 billion,” said Attorney General James. “We filed this lawsuit to protect millions of New Yorkers from this harmful, misguided, and blatantly political attack. New York will not be bullied into paying more than its fair share, and we will continue to fight back.”
The lawsuit—which was originally filed in July 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York—argued that the new SALT deduction cap was enacted to target New York and similarly situated states, that it interferes with states’ rights to make their own fiscal decisions, and that it will disproportionately harm taxpayers in these states. The top states with the highest average deduction for state and local taxes—a majority of which are Democratic—include New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey.
The 2017 Tax Act reversed over a century of precedent in the federal tax code—drastically curtailing the state and local tax deduction by capping it at $10,000. An analysis by the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance projected that the cap would increase New Yorkers’ federal taxes by up to $15 billion annually.
As one of the nation’s top donor states, this attack is significantly more damaging to New York than many other states. Prior to enactment of the 2017 law, New York state already had the widest disparity among all states when factoring how much money New York sent to Washington, D.C. and the funding it received in return. Other donor states, including Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey are being similarly injured.
In its September 2019 ruling, despite ruling against the State of New York and its partner states, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed that the states had been injured based on their argument that the cap on the state and local tax deduction may depress home prices. By effectively raising state property taxes, the SALT cap will also reduce the value of a homeowner’s property, thereby discouraging home sales and decreasing the revenues the states are able to collect by taxing such sales.
Reports in the press also show anecdotal evidence that New Yorkers—particularly the state’s highest earners—are already moving their homes and businesses to states like Florida because of the cap on SALT deductions. In New York, the top 1% of taxpayers account for 46% of state income tax collections and losing them threatens the ability of the state to deliver on New York’s promise of providing opportunity for every person in the state.