PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There are new efforts at the federal level to fully reinstate New Jersey state and local tax deductions, to lower taxes and hopefully get people to stay in the area.

It’s no secret homeowners around here pay a pretty penny in property taxes. So when in 2017 state and local tax deductions — or SALT — were capped at $10,000, it hit hard.

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“For 104 years our taxpayers here were able to deduct what they paid in state taxes before paying their federal taxes to avoid double taxation,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer said.

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Gottheimer said the average deductions for the counties he represents are well above the federal cap.

In Warren County, homeowners pay an average of $12,500, in Sussex and Passaic counties more than $14,000, and in Bergen more than $24,000, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.

Leaders who spoke chose U-Haul as the backdrop to symbolize how some are packing up and leaving New Jersey.

“We ranked third highest in the country of families and businesses leaving our state,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer believes he has a chance to reverse the cap now that Democrats control the House, Senate and White House. New Jersey is among the top states that pay more to the federal government than they get back, compared to what he calls “moocher states.”

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Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

“Cities like Paterson are reeling and, quite frankly, we could use, pun intended, the ‘shot in the arm’ at this time,” Sayegh said.

When asked if the onus should be on Gov. Phil Murphy and local leaders to spend less to ease the burden on taxpayers, Sayegh said, “What we can do is stabilize taxes. We’re trying to expand our rate-able base but because of the pandemic, we’ve put a lot of projects on hold.”

The president of the New Jersey Real Estate Association said one positive of the pandemic has been people fleeing New York City for the suburbs. The hope is to keep them here by restoring the SALT tax deductions.

Gottheimer and bipartisan colleagues are asking that the re-institution of SALT be part of the next COVID relief package. They have reached out to President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report

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