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, 20 September 2014 00:00
Last year, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer stopped at Moby Drugs in Farmingdale to highlight the launch of a drug take-back program, which was designed to help residents remove addictive prescriptions out of their medicine cabinets.
Yet, despite studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control—which found 70 percent of those addicted to prescription drugs get them from home, family or friends—federal regulations have prevented pharmacies in New York State from hosting the take-back program.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:38
Lt. Matt Komorowski of Farmingdale was recently honored with the first annual American Heroes award, for showing bravery when faced with impossible odds.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Komorowski was one of six FDNY firefighters with Ladder Co. 6, called to the World Trade Center just a short while before the tower collapsed. Arriving at the scene, Komorowski and the members of his ladder company rushed inside the building. As they rushed up the stairs the men of Ladder 6 stopped to assist Josephine Harris, a then 60-year-old Brooklyn grandmother, who was stuck in the stairwell of the building.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
The 2014 Farmingdale Flag Football season kicked off with a blast on Sept. 7.
3rd Grade Division
The Texans and the Jets played a great opening weekend game, with the Texans getting the victory. For the Texans, touchdown pass from Joseph Spano to Jaxon Parisi with 20 seconds in the half broke a tie that the Jets never came back from. The Jets were led by Brendan O’Keefe, who had two rushing touchdowns and Jimmy Caputo, who picked off a pass at the goal line.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
Farmingdale State College’s women’s tennis team opened the 2014 season with an 8-1 victory over John Jay College (0-1) on Sept. 3. The Rams (1-0) held a 2-1 advantage after doubles play before sweeping the singles matches.