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 legislation (H.R. 8) that permanently extended 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 H.R. 8, which 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.
• 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 Hurricane Sandy Tax Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 2137), 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.
• Provided Tax Relief for Commuters. In 2009 with my strong support, Congress increased the amount workers were able to put away in pre-tax salary to use for mass transit (bus, rail, trolley, subway or ferry), bringing this benefit in line with the tax benefit for parking costs. Over 2.7 million American families are assisted by the pre-tax mass transit benefit. In addition, the transit pre-tax savings accounts saved employers more than $300 million in payroll taxes in 2010, and saved Americans $8.4 billion at the pump. Unfortunately this increased benefit expired at the end of 2014, dropping down to $130/month instead of $245/month. I will continue to press my colleagues to retroactively extend the higher commuter benefit (I am a lead cosponsor of legislation to do so, H.R. 2288 – the Commuter Parity Act), and will work to ultimately to make it permanent. Between high fuel costs and road congestion, we should be doing all we can to encourage public transportation in a way that is cost-effective for Long Island commuters.
• Supported Tax Relief for Our Teachers. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3318, which would make permanent the $250 deduction offered to teachers who pay out of their own pockets for educational supplies. In the face of budget cuts, we must do all we can support our educators who often generously purchase supplies for their students to ensure they have the tools to succeed.
• Repealed New Tax Burdens Enacted in the Health Care Law. In 2011, one of the first bills to pass the House was tax legislation (H.R. 4) 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.