Andrew Cuomo (Governor of New York) is planning on suing over the 2018 tax plan, claiming it to be unconstitutional: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/01/03/cuomo-new-york-sue-over-federal-tax-law/1001655001/

It sounds like the biggest complaint he has is the changes to the state and local tax deductions. This affects states like NY with high state taxes more than other states and might cause high earning people to leave the state.

Given that constitutionally congress has the power to levy taxes, does the claim that it is unconstitutional to not have a state and local tax deduction have any merit at all?

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    Since this is a political move and not an actual legal complaint, there are no specific claims to evaluate. Perhaps you're asking "what claims could he possibly come up with?"; the truthiness of the answer would be the degree to which an answer matches the actual complaint, if there is an actual complaint. See this:law.com/newyorklawjournal/sites/newyorklawjournal/2018/01/08/…
    – user6726
    Jan 9, 2018 at 5:46
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it concerns an ongoing case, for which the merits have not been decided.
    – user4657
    Jan 9, 2018 at 6:06
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    @Nij Lot of pending cases have clearly precedents that provide legal answers. I don't think that the mere fact that a case is pending makes it off topic.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 9, 2018 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


I see this question as asking whether the state and local tax deduction to the federal income tax is constitutionally required, which is the proposed basis of the lawsuit as stated in the question.

The answer is that it is not. One simple way to see this is that people who do not itemize their deductions have never been able to take this tax deduction.

The power of the federal government to impose taxes is not entirely unlimited under the U.S. Constitution, but it has the express power to impose an income tax, and income defined without a state and local tax deduction is not so far afield from the meaning of "income" that it ceases to be an income tax without it.

In contrast, denying a deduction for the cost of goods sold of a business, converts the income tax from an income tax to a sales tax and this interpretation when applied in the case of Internal Revenue Code Section 280E was held to violate the constitution, forcing a different interpretation of that section that allowed a cost of goods sold deduction, in order to make the section constitutional.

Therefore, the hypothetical case has little legal merit.

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    "people who do not itemize their deductions have never been able to take this tax deduction": how does that follow? People who choose a simpler filling option have not been denied any (purported) right to deduct other taxes; they've merely chosen not to exercise it.
    – phoog
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:58
  • @phoog It is more than choosing not to exercise it, it is choosing not to exercise it knowing that you will be penalized by paying more taxes if you do.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 10, 2018 at 2:11
  • Whether an individual taxpayer pays more taxes by itemizing or by taking the standard deduction depends on the taxpayer's circumstances.
    – phoog
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:48

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