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Color TV, State Lawsuits, and the Demise of the State and Local Tax Deduction

07.30.18 | SALT Chat

Way before the advent of streaming video, 4k, 1080p, 720p, and basic color TV, unbelievably readers, existed the black and white TV set.  Weighing in at least fifty pounds, these behemoths of information were our only means of receiving our prime-time entertainment.  Selecting channels meant getting off the couch and turning a knob, usually by the youngest member of the family present at the time.  Occasionally, someone, usually the senior family member, had to adjust the horizontal or vertical hold and if that didn’t help stabilize the picture, a good rap on the side of the TV usually did the trick.

The stone age of TV watching wasn’t all-bad.  As the screen had no color, we had no red and blue states.  A quick scan of the internet tells me that color-coded state maps weren’t used during TV news coverage of elections until 1976.  To eliminate inconsistency and confusion, the story goes that ABC was the first in 1990 to assign red to the GOP and blue to the Dems. 

Nevertheless, did they unintentionally create the current political divide?  Highly unlikely, since something as simple as color charts can’t seem to agree if an even mixture of red and blue is purple or violet.  Moreover, if the charts cannot agree, why should states, particularly four blue ones, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and now New York, agree with the federal government’s newly enacted cap of $10,000 imposed on the state and local tax deduction?

Most experts believe the coalition of blue stands a very slim chance of invalidating the SALT cap.  However, the experts have been wrong before (most recently with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wayfair).  As a resident of New York, I would love to see the cap eliminated.  Elected officials of the blue states view the lawsuit as a political necessity, whether or not success is guaranteed.

Of course, we will be carefully watching to see what happens.  The question remains though whether this would all work out if we can go back to watching on our black and white TV.

If you have questions about the SALT cap, contact me at WBerkowitz@BerdonLLP.com or your Berdon advisor.

Wayne Berkowitz, a tax partner and head of the State and Local Tax Group at Berdon LLP, advises on the unique requirements of governments and municipalities across the nation.