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Rep. Israel Calls For Reforms To Tax Code Based On Cost Of Living

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) with the McKee family of Hicksville, LI, discussing efforts to reform the tax code, March 19, 2014. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) with the McKee family of Hicksville, LI, discussing efforts to reform the tax code, March 19, 2014. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Long Island Rep. Steve Israel is pushing for reforms to income tax credits following the release of a taxpayer report.

The Democrat said the new study gives him ammunition to work to get the tax code reformed.

“You shouldn’t be taxed based solely on what you earn. You should be taxed based on what you earn, less what you pay,” Rep. Israel said Wednesday from the home of a Hicksville family.

The report – “A Tale Of Three Cities” – completed by centrist think tank Third Way compared Hicksville, Akron, Ohio and McAllen, Texas and showed how overtaxed the Long Islanders are due to the higher cost of living.

“You go to the McDonald’s in Hicksville, you’re gonna pay an extra buck for a quarter-pounder with cheese as opposed to the same quarter-pounder with cheese in McAllen, Texas, or Akron,” said the congressman. “Earned Income Tax Credit. But if you’re making over $43,000, it doesn’t apply to you. In McAllen, Texas, many more people are making $43,000 than in Hicksville.”

The McKees, a middle class Hicksville family, said they are looking to move to North Carolina, where they’d owe about 60 percent less in taxes than they currently do.

“If you’re making $250,000 in Huntington, West Virginia, you’re doing OK. But if you’re making $250,000 in Huntington, Long Island, you’re not doing so OK,” said Israel. “If you’re on Long Island, you paid more in taxes, and a lot more.”

The report highlights several aspects of the tax code that middle class families in higher cost-of-living communities do not get to take full advantage of because on paper, they seem too financially sound to need them.

“Middle-class families in New York should be able to take advantage of tax credits in place for working families and should not face roadblocks because of the fact that they live in a high-cost area. Third Way’s report only confirmed that we must ease the burden for middle-class families in New York by allowing them to take advantage of tax credits that similar taxpayers around the country have access to,” Israel said in a statement.

Rep. Israel has sponsored measures to help level the playing field, such as the Tax Equity Act, which would adjust tax brackets for all areas with a higher cost-of-living than the national average. He’s also backed the Student Loan Employment Benefits Act, which would allow those working to set aside up to $5,000 of their salary tax-free to repay their student loans.

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