A clear majority of New Jersey voters from across the political spectrum want the federal government to restore an unlimited write-off for property tax bills and other state and local taxes, according to a recent poll.
In all, more than 60% of those surveyed by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll last month indicated they want a full restoration of the federal tax write-off that’s commonly referred to as SALT.
The write-off was capped at $10,000 in 2017 by former President Donald Trump and the then-Republican Congress as part of a broader overhaul of federal tax policies.
But this year, several members of the now-Democratic-controlled House of Representatives are urging President Joe Biden and their colleagues to eliminate the cap as part of a wider plan to fund a major federal infrastructure-renewal initiative.
Despite the cap’s link to the Republican Trump, support for a repeal of the SALT cap in New Jersey has hit at least 60% among Democratic, Republican and independent voters, according to the FDU poll.
“If there’s one thing that can transcend partisanship, it’s cold, hard cash,” said Dan Cassino, executive director of the FDU Poll.
And while only 35% of those surveyed said capping the deduction at $10,000 had increased their own federal tax bills, nearly half of those particular respondents were still in favor of lifting it, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of nearly 4%.
“Even though it’s mostly impacting residents of wealthier areas in North Jersey, support for restoring the deduction is pretty close to universal,” said Cassino, who is also a professor of government and politics at FDU.
Pros, cons of federal tax changes
To be sure, many New Jersey residents benefited from the federal tax changes enacted in 2017, including through an expansion of the standard deduction and the reduction of tax rates levied on the highest earners.
But federal tax data suggests many New Jersey residents were also hit with tax hikes due to the SALT cap. Roughly 40% of the state’s filers used the deduction before it was capped, with the average write-off topping $10,000 in 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties, and in some New Jersey counties, the average SALT deduction easily topped $20,000 before the cap was enacted, according to the federal tax data.
Meanwhile, the average New Jersey property tax bill has risen by nearly 5% to a record high of $9,112 since the federal cap was enacted. As of last year, one third of New Jersey’s 21 counties had average property-tax bills that were above the $10,000 SALT cutoff, according to the latest data from the state Department of Community Affairs.
Democratic members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation have portrayed the cap as unfair to residents in states like New Jersey that have relatively higher home values and median incomes than other parts of the country.
Some have also staked out a firm position on the issue amid the broader discussions that are underway in Washington, D.C., involving taxes and infrastructure, including by saying they would withhold their support for any legislation unless SALT relief is included.
Opposition for lifting SALT cap
But there are also many Democrats and Republicans who oppose lifting the cap, and they routinely point to reports and studies that suggest such a policy change would largely benefit only the wealthiest U.S. residents.
The FDU poll did not ask New Jersey voters to provide their income status, but they were asked to provide other background information, and those with a college education called for a repeal of the cap at a higher rate than those without degrees, according to the poll.
Among those reporting higher tax bills as a result of the cap, it also appears to be hitting Democratic, Republican and independent voters in New Jersey at generally the same rates.
Meanwhile, only 26% of those surveyed by FDU said they knew “nothing at all” about the SALT deduction.
‘It doesn’t directly impact everyone’
“For all the coverage that the SALT cap has gotten in the press, it doesn’t directly impact everyone,” Cassino said. “Renters, people with mortgages, anyone who doesn’t itemize their deductions, they may not even notice the difference.”
The poll was conducted from June 9 to June 16, and responses were collected via phone and text from 803 registered voters, according to FDU.