As the Representative of a Congressional district with one of the highest costs of living in the country, I am a strong believer in keeping taxes low for hard-working Americans. In times of economic hardship, the last thing New York families and small businesses need is a greater tax burden.
Reforming our tax code is key to improving our economy. On January 1, 2013, I voted for a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for 99% of Americans – shielding the vast majority of New Yorkers from a massive tax increase. While this was an important achievement, our tax code remains excessively complex and convoluted. According to a recent report by the federal Taxpayer Advocate, “individuals and businesses spend about 6.1 billion hours a year complying with the filing requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.” The average individual taxpayer spends $258 in tax compliance according to IRS research. This is unacceptable. I support a complete overhaul of the tax system by broadening the tax base and lowering rates, which would make U.S. businesses more competitive in the global economy, and reduce the tax burden for our middle class.
Below is some of the recent work I have done in Congress to provide meaningful tax relief and improve U.S. competitiveness through the tax code:
• Reduced the Tax Burden for Hardworking American Families. I supported legislation that permanently extended the Bush tax cuts for 99% of Americans – preventing a tax hike on the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers. This bill included a permanent extension of: the 10% income bracket for low-income filers, the capital gains and dividends tax rates, the child tax credit and the adoption tax credit, among others. It also provided a permanent patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) to stop bracket-creep so that middle-income families aren’t unfairly taxed, and codifies a set estate tax exemption and tax rate.
• Supported Tax Relief for Small Businesses. In December 2015, Congress passed Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act (P.L. 114-113) with my strong support. The legislation made several important parts of the tax code permanent, including enhanced Section 179 expensing, which is important driver of capital investment, and the Research and Development Tax Credit, which encourages investment in new innovations and ensures that we remain the leader in research and technology. Altogether, the bill makes over 20 tax relief provisions permanent including several charitable deductions, the deduction for state and local taxes, and the deduction for teacher classroom expenses, which will provide Americans with greater certainty.
• Provided Tax Relief for Commuters. The PATH Act included a provision I have long championed, which ensures that all commuters will permanently receive equitable tax benefits, regardless of whether they drive or take mass transit to work. As a result, the commuter tax benefit exclusion for mass transit riders increased to $255/month this year. For too long the tax code provided greater benefits to motorists than mass transit riders, which shortchanged Long Island Railroad commuters. Not only will the enhanced benefit save commuters money on their taxes, but it will help employers to save money on payroll taxes.
• Fighting for Tax Relief for Sandy Victims. Long Islanders should be eligible for the same tax benefits that were provided to victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Now that the Sandy aid has been secured, I want to see tax relief legislation for Sandy victims passed as soon as possible. I am an original cosponsor of the National Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2015 (H.R. 3110), which would provide the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy with the same tax relief provided to other major hurricane victims, including the removal of casualty loss deduction limits, a work opportunity tax credit for the hiring of workers who lost their jobs as a result of Sandy, and allowing penalty-free loans from retirement plans.
• Repealed New Tax Burdens Enacted in the Health Care Law. In 2011, one of the first bills to pass the House was tax legislation that repealed the health care reform law's burdensome 1099 tax reporting requirement. I was an original cosponsor of this bill, which President Obama signed into law – conceding that the requirement would have been harmful to small business. In 2015, Congress successfully delayed implementation harmful taxes passed in President Obama’s health care law, including the tax on employer-sponsored health plans, or “Cadillac Tax”, and the medical device tax. I will continue to work to prevent these harmful taxes from going into effect.