The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to pass a restoration of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction on Thursday after Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and other members of the New Jersey delegation laid down an early marker that made property tax relief non-negotiable.
“No SALT, no dice,” Gottheimer has said, repeatedly. “No SALT, no deal.”
Gottheimer, Sherrill and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson), the only New Jerseyan on the House Ways and Means Committee, have spent years fighting to reverse a 2017 law that limited the SALT deduction to $10,000 annually.
Now the Democratic lawmakers have tied the SALT deduction to the passage of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, proudly leveraging their votes to help lower tax bills for their constituents.
“It will pass the House because of the work we’ve done,” Sherrill said. “There’s no path without the SALT fix.”
Sherrill said there is a national misunderstanding of the SALT deduction and an unfair tax system.
“This is not untaxed income,” she said. “I think this is just a total misreading the tax code.”
According to Sherrill, who made support of the SALT deduction a top issue in her first campaign for Congress three years ago, New Jerseyans are able to fund better public schools, police training, and the number of police municipalities can hire.
“These are issues the Democratic Party purports to care about,” Sherrill explained, saying that the opposition to the SALT deduction comes from red states that don’t fund public schools the way New Jersey does.
Gottheimer blamed “moocher states” for gutting SALT four years ago and “stealing from New Jersey.” He said the median property tax in Bergen County is about $15,000, as compared to $4,000 in Vermont and $550 in Mississippi, a state Gottheimer says “doesn’t invest in schools.”
“It’s a huge threat to our state and our economy,” he said. “New Jersey is losing jobs and people.”
Four House Democrats from New Jersey—Reps. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Tom Malinowski (D-Malinowski), Gottheimer and Sherrill —represent districts carried by Republican Jack Ciattarelli against Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this month. Ciattarelli made taxes his top issue in a close governor’s race.
Now control of the House—where Republicans need to flip just five seats to claim the majority—could hinge on the electoral success of Democrats like Gottheimer and Sherrill.
Getting credit for restoring the SALT deduction would be politically helpful for Democrats who represent upper and middle class individuals who already think their taxes are too high.
Sherrill said that if the U.S. Senate makes any changes to the funding bill, it will come back to the House.
“Advocacy is critical,” she said. “If you care about everyone getting the best education.”