Bipartisan House group pushes to scrap SALT cap as infrastructure debate heats up

Key Points
  • A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is trying to repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions passed as part of the 2017 Republican tax law.
  • Some of the representatives are trying to include the change in President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, which could potentially jeopardize its passage.
  • Analyses have estimated the change would disproportionately help wealthy taxpayers, but supporters of repealing the cap said it will help the middle class, as well.
Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference announcing the State and Local Taxes (SALT) Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on April 15, 2021.
Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of House members on Thursday applied more pressure to repeal the state and local tax deduction cap, as the policy emerges as a possible stumbling block in efforts to pass President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan.

Lawmakers from both parties announced the SALT caucus, which aims to scrap the $10,000 limit on state and local deductions set as part of the 2017 Republican tax law. The roughly 30 House members in the group largely represent the high-tax states of New York, New Jersey and California.

Members of Congress from those states have pushed to get rid of the tax deduction cap since the GOP passed it. The formation of the caucus shows repealing the policy has gained traction, even as lawmakers in both parties oppose the change and question whether it will help wealthy taxpayers most.

A handful of lawmakers have tied the push to repeal the limit to Democrats' next legislative priority: a more than $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package. Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Tom Suozzi of New York — co-chairs of the new group — and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey have said they "will not accept any changes to the tax code that do not restore the SALT deduction."

As Democrats hold a narrow 218-212 majority in the House, their potential opposition to an infrastructure bill would jeopardize its passage. It is unclear now how many members of the SALT caucus would make repealing the cap a condition of supporting an infrastructure plan.

"You've been hearing a lot about SALT in relation to the infrastructure bill," Suozzi said on Thursday, but "not everybody's in the same place" on including it in the legislation.

Others including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose state of New York is one of those most helped by scrapping the cap, have pushed to get rid of the deduction limit. Doing so as part of the infrastructure bill, though, would create issues for the party.

Biden has called to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% and deter offshoring of business profits to offset the infrastructure spending. Repealing the SALT deduction cap would cost the federal government money and leave Congress with another financing gap to make up.

Asked Wednesday about getting rid of the limit, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wanted to hear more ideas about how to pay for the infrastructure package.

Many progressive Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized efforts to repeal the SALT deduction limit. Nearly all of the tax cut from getting rid of the cap – 96% – would go to the top 20% of American households, the Tax Policy Center estimated in 2018.

More than half of the benefit would fall to the top 1% of households, the analysis found.

Supporters of repealing the cap on Thursday disputed the notion that it would help wealthier Americans the most.

"This is affecting middle-class families in my district," Gottheimer said.

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