Sen. Charles Schumer said homeowners will suffer if mortgage and property tax deductions are reduced or cut
VICTOR — Kathleen Draper is in the process of selling her farmhouse on County Road 9.
Then she learned about the potential for federal reductions to — and possibly elimination — of mortgage and property tax deductions.
The potential for cuts, on top of a Victor town tax increase this year, has made the process even tougher, said Draper, who on Thursday hosted a visit from Democratic New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who also serves as Senate minority leader.
“It’s hard to see why they’re going down that path when there are tax deductions coming for people who can afford it a lot more than I can,” Draper said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has suggested the reductions, while some on House committees are looking at cutting them entirely, at the same time proposing tax benefits for the top 1 percent, Schumer said.
Schumer said he will fight the effort, and is confident there is enough bipartisan support to do so when the tax bills come to the floor in May.
Home ownership is the backbone of the Finger Lakes region and America, and has been for decades, Schumer said.
“We’re a middle-class country,” Schumer said. “Some people think well, if the very wealthy have a lot of money, they will create jobs. Maybe they will. But don’t put it on the backs of these people.”
Such federal action would hit upstate disproportionately hard in New York, because home values are high as are taxes, he said.
The average Ontario County tax bill is just under $3,500, and the Monroe County average is just over $4,200, according to the Tax Foundation, using figures from 2011 to 2014.
About 1.9 million New Yorkers filed for the mortgage tax deduction and 2.3 million filed for the real estate tax deduction in 2014, according to the IRS.
According to Congressional Research Service analysis of IRS data, over 86 percent of tax returns including a mortgage interest deduction were from those making $200,000 or less, according to information supplied by Schumer.
Successfully taking away these tax breaks for homeowners would make it more difficult for Draper to sell her home and for younger homeowners to be able to buy homes, Schumer said.
“The deduction really helps,” Schumer said.
Schumer also called on residents to contact their congressional representatives to make their feelings known on the issue. For the Victor residents he addressed, that would be Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence. The county's other congressman is Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.
“Let Collins know,” Schumer said. “He has a lot of clout. He’s very close to President Trump."