Langevin Votes to Provide Tax Relief for Rhode Island Families, Teachers and First Responders

Dec 20, 2019 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Rhode Island

WASHINGTON - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted in support of H.R. 5377, the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 218 to 206, reverses the $10,000 cap on the itemized deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) established by the 2017 Republican tax law and quadruples the amount teachers can deduct for out-of-pocket classroom expenses. The bill also creates a new, above-the-line deduction for unreimbursed expenses of first responders.

“The House of Representatives is working ‘For the People,’ and our tax policy needs reform that is fair, far-reaching and makes a difference in the lives of families across Rhode Island and the country,” said Langevin. “I’m proud that we are taking a step in the right direction to provide meaningful relief for hardworking, middle-class Rhode Islanders who have seen their tax bills go up thanks the Republicans’ deficit-busting give away to the wealthiest Americans.”

Prior to the passage of the Republican tax bill, Rhode Islanders could deduct all of their property taxes from their income. Beginning in 2018, the amount that could be deducted was limited to $10,000; however, the average SALT deduction claimed by Rhode Islanders who itemized was approximately $13,000 in 2017, the year before the cap took effect. The Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act eliminates the $10,000 cap, ensuring that Rhode Islanders will once again be able to deduct their entire property tax bill.

Roughly 3.5 million K-12 teachers across the country benefit from the educator expense deduction, which is currently set at $250. This bill quadruples the deduction for educators to $1,000 and indexes it for inflation. Further, it institutes a new deduction of up to $1,000 for law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians that will cover unreimbursed expenses related to tuition, professional development or expenses for uniforms.

“Educators and public safety officials are on the front lines making a difference in our communities,” said Langevin. “Many of these professionals go above and beyond their duties, often reaching into their own pockets to cover costs for essentials like class supplies or training. It is unreasonable and unfair to tax them on the income they turn around and spend to make their communities better.”

The restoration of the SALT deduction and the tax relief for teachers and first responders in the bill will be offset by the restoration of the top tax rate, paid only on income above $425,000, to its pre-2017 level of 39.6 percent.