A tax reform bill introduced by House Republican leaders is a "starting point for desperately needed action," U.S. Rep. John Katko said Thursday.
The 429-page measure, which has been named The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would reduce taxes for the middle class, mainly by increasing the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individual filers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples.
The bill would expand the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 and establish a new family credit to help cover expenses.
The home mortgage interest deduction would continue for existing mortgages and new residential purchases of up to $500,000.
There would be benefits for the wealthiest Americans, too. The legislation repeals the alternative minimum tax and would phase out the estate tax, both of which tend to impact the highest income earners.
For businesses, the corporate tax rate would be lowered from 35 to 20 percent. The tax on small business income would be no more than 25 percent.
Katko, R-Camillus, fell short of saying he would vote for the bill in its current form, but he clearly supports many of its provisions.
Since joining Congress in 2015, he has long advocated for tax reform, which he believes will help families and businesses in his district.
In his remarks about the bill, Katko challenged critics of the GOP tax reform proposal. Democrats contend that it will benefit the wealthy and won't reduce taxes for most individuals.
"For 30 years, progressives have demanded exactly what this bill does — easing of the tax burden on low- and middle-income working families and eliminating loopholes," he said. "Anyone who dismisses this bill outright should be prepared to explain this discrepancy, and detail why hardworking Americans should continue to be taxed at excessive rates."
One provision that has drawn Katko's interest is the state and local tax deduction. In the Republicans' early framework, the ability to deduct state and local income, property and sales taxes was eliminated.
In the bill released Thursday, the state and local tax deduction would remain in place for property taxes up to $10,000. But individuals would no longer be able to deduct state and local income and sales taxes.
Without addressing specific issues, Katko acknowledged that the current bill isn't perfect. But it's why he believes the legislative process must advance.
"As this measure moves through the House over the coming weeks, I will continue to consult with individuals, families, small businesses and manufacturers across my district and seek their feedback," he said. "As I always have, I will advocate in Congress to ensure that this measure is a net win for central New York."