Republicans and Democrats in New Jersey can’t agree on much, but they’re united in their belief that the $10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes should be removed. Almost two-thirds of voters in the Garden State (63%) say that the full property tax deduction should be restored – a figure that includes half of voters who say that the cap hasn’t increased their taxes.
“It would make sense for this to be a partisan issue, as it’s tied to Trump and to Democratic members of Congress” said Dan Cassino, a professor of government and politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the executive director of the poll. “But if there’s one thing that can transcend partisanship, it’s cold, hard cash.”
In 2017, the Republican Congress and President Trump capped the amount of state and local taxes that could be claimed as a deduction on federal taxes to $10,000. That means that anyone who was paying more than $10,000 a year in local taxes – a group that includes mostly residents of high tax state like New Jersey, New York and Connecticut – would see a tax increase, though that might have been offset by other changes in the tax law. In 2020, the mean homeowner in New Jersey paid about $9,000 in property taxes, though mean taxes in many counties, especially in North Jersey, are above $10,000. Democratic members of Congress in New Jersey have said that restoring the cap is a top priority, though progress has, so far, been limited.
“The SALT cap was largely seen as an attack on Democratic states,” said Cassino. “Even though it’s mostly impacting residents of wealthier areas in North Jersey, support for restoring the deduction is pretty close to universal.”
While there are very few issues in national politics today that unite Democrats and Republicans, New Jersey voters from across the political spectrum want the full SALT deduction restored. 63% of Democrats, and 64% of Republicans say that they want the full tax break back, no different from the 60% of independent voters who say the same. Even the fact that the change was made under former President Trump does nothing to change these views. Half of respondents were randomly assigned to be asked a form of the question that mentioned Trump’s role in the cap, but their responses were no different from the responses of those that were asked the question without noting Trump.
The bipartisan nature of views on the SALT deduction are likely due to the widespread impact of the cap on New Jersey voters. About a third of voters (35%) say that the cap has increased their taxes, a figure that’s no different among Republicans (36%), Democrats (34%) or independents (35%). A smaller number (28%) say that it hasn’t increased their taxes, and a surprising large number of voters (30%) say that they’re not sure if it increased their taxes or not. And these figures don’t include the quarter of voters (26%) who say that they haven’t even heard of the SALT cap.
“For all the coverage that the SALT cap has gotten in the press, it doesn’t directly impact everyone,” said Cassino. “Renters, people with mortgages, anyone who doesn’t itemize their deductions, they may not even notice the difference.”
Not surprisingly, opposition to the SALT deduction cap is concentrated among voters most likely to own homes: older and more educated people. 65% of New Jersey voters with a college degree say that the cap should be lifted, compared with half (51%) of those who never attended college. Similarly, 73% of voters age 65 and up say that the full deduction should be restored, compared to just 43% of those under 35. This relationship can be observed directly, as well: 81% of respondents who say that the SALT cap has increased their taxes want the deduction restored, along with half of respondents (48%) who say that their taxes haven’t gone up.
“There may be good reasons to support the SALT cap, as it’s a tax increase that mostly falls on wealthier people,” said Cassino. “But there aren’t that many people who see their taxes go up and think it’s a good thing.”
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