Written by COngressman Steve Israel Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Brian and Amy are your typical middle-class New Yorkers. They’ve worked hard to build a comfortable life for their three children in Hicksville, and hoped to remain there to be near family.
However, every year during tax season they are hit by a bill from the federal government that makes them question if they will be able to continue living in such a high-cost area. Their story is all too familiar, and I wanted proof that we need to change the federal tax code to account for New York families facing some of the highest costs of living in the country.
To get an answer, I asked Third Way, a centrist think tank focused on middle-class issues especially relevant to families in our area, to actually crunch the data on how much New Yorkers pay in federal taxes compared to similar families across the country. The report,
“A Tale of Three Cities,” compared the effects of the federal tax code on three typical middle-class families—one from Hicksville, another from Akron, Ohio, and a third from McAllen, Texas.
The numbers were striking. The data shows that New Yorkers pay more in federal taxes because the federal tax code does not account for differences in wages and costs of living across different regions. This means that many New York families who are solidly middle class, but may make more on paper than similar families elsewhere, do not qualify for many income-based tax credits.
For example, a worker in low-cost, low-wage McAllen, Texas, can qualify for tax credits to help with his child care costs, while a similarly hard-working New Yorker, who may earn more, but also pays more for everything from gasoline to groceries, can’t access the same amount of benefits. Applying the same tax code to families in vastly different circumstances makes no sense—even a Quarter-Pounder at McDonald’s costs $1 more in Nassau County than it does in McAllen.
Even worse, in an expensive area like New York, a working-class family can end up owing thousands of dollars on its federal tax return, while a nearly identical family in low-cost McAllen can end up receiving thousands in return.
This glaring inequality is just plain wrong. Regional differences in costs of living should be accounted for in the federal tax code.
Two bills I’ve introduced would help level the playing field for New York taxpayers. The Tax Equity Act would adjust tax brackets for all areas with a higher cost-of-living than the national average, and the Student Loan Employment Benefits Act would allow those working to set aside up to $5,000 of their salary, tax-free, to repay their student loans. I am also drafting legislation that would index future tax credits to regional costs of living.
These common-sense measures will strengthen the middle class and lay the foundation for New York’s future. It’s time to give New York’s taxpayers like Amy and Brian the fairness they deserve.
The full Third Way Report can be viewed at www.israel.house.gov.
Saturday, 30 August 2014 00:00
There was a time when people knew what they were eating. Frozen meals, fast food chains and ingredients impossible to pronounce were non-existent. Instead, simple ingredients and meals were all made from scratch.
Joann P. Magri, owner of The Divine Olive, is keeping this way of eating alive. Offering hungry customers with a choice in quality foods and ingredients, Magri encourages customers to make their own meals. With shelves stocked full of 18-year-old vinegars straight from Modena, Italy, to extra virgin olive oils infused with various herbs and flavors, the Divine Olive features a variety of organic and vegan products, all 100 percent natural. It even has handmade spaghetti and fresh bread, which perfectly pairs with all of their other products.
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00
It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.
An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of LI designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.
“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.
“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia. “Flying through the air never gets boring. At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.”