The Suffolk County Legislature recently voted on a new system to get around the loss of SALT deductions for our county taxes. While the Republican minority abstained from voting, Democratic legislators passed the bill. However, this law might not live up to expectations because of legal roadblocks and also the stress it could cause local municipalities that would have to implement it.
Long Islanders—who pay some of the highest real estate taxes in the country—are feeling the full effects of not being able to deduct state and local taxes while filing with the IRS this year. As a result, many have received smaller refunds or have had to pay the government—something they’ve never done before. Some others who are used to paying have had to pay more. Either way, it’s not a good thing.
Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, who is running for reelection this November, came up with a plan, which is modeled after Gov. Cuomo’s proposal last year that would establish a Charitable Gift Fund through which taxpayers could pay their municipal, state and school taxes, thus receiving the deduction in an alternative way. That’s a really great idea. Except there’s a big problem: the IRS doesn’t recognize it.
In their attempt to push this law through, four states, including New York, are currently suing the IRS. But so far, that federal agency hasn’t budged on their decision. So if that were the case, why would Suffolk bother to pass this law now?
According to Islip Town receiver of taxes, Alexis Weik, who also happens to be the president of the Suffolk County Association of the Receivers of Taxes, if the plan goes through, there would have to be a number of changes made to the legal guidelines that she and all others in her position must follow. And, computer system changes and upgrades would have to be made before dealing with a program of charitable contributions in lieu of paying taxes. Those upgrades will cost municipalities a lot more money, which will no doubt have to be passed on to taxpayers. The formula is not cut and dried.
Though it’s nice to see that our representatives are interested in easing the taxpayers’ burden, they probably should have waited to see how the state’s lawsuit against the IRS turns out before passing this law. Without that compliance, the Charitable Gift Fund isn’t going to happen anyway.