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Shaheen argues Senate GOP tax bill would hurt N.H. homeowners

New Hampshire’s senior senator is taking aim at the GOP tax plan making its way through the U.S. Senate.

“The bottom line for me is that this is a tax plan that’s going to undermine middle-class families. It’s not going to give them the tax breaks that they need,” Democrat Jeanne Shaheen declared in an interview with the Monitor.

Shaheen’s comments came minutes before she sat down for a roundtable discussion with real estate professionals in Londonderry on what she said would be the bill’s negative impact on Granite State homeowners.

The GOP tax bill narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week, with a handful of Republicans joining all of the chamber’s Democrats in opposing the measure.

A different version of the bill, crafted by GOP senators, is currently making its way through the U.S. Senate. The proposals would permanently lower the corporate tax rate, temporarily lower individual rates across the middle-class and would drastically reshape the country's tax code.

Republicans argue the plan would benefit the wealthy, the middle class, and corporations to spur job growth and strengthen the economy. Democrats counter that the proposals would hurt most everyone except the rich and large companies.

The bill would eliminate the state and local tax deduction, which Shaheen said more than 200,000 Granite Staters rely on to deduct property taxes.

“About 66 percent of our taxes in New Hampshire are from the property tax. We’re hit the hardest of any state in the country. And this is a plan, both on the House and Senate side, that would have a major impact on New Hampshire homeowners, on the value of their real estate,” Shaheen said.

“The expectation is that fewer people will itemize, and that will have an impact,” she added.

And Shaheen said that the percentage of Granite Staters with home equity loans is far higher than the national average, and the GOP plan will eliminate interest deductions on those loans.

Greg Moore, the New Hampshire state director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group that pushes for lower taxes and less government regulation, couldn’t disagree more. 

“As one of the five lowest states for state and local tax burden, New Hampshire is particularly well-positioned to benefit from the elimination of the state and local tax deduction,” Moore said. “Converting that deduction into lower rates and doubling the standard deduction will not only mean more dollars in the hands of Granite Staters, but it will also mean that we can stop subsidizing high-tax states nationally.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has generally supported the congressional GOP tax proposals.

Earlier this month, he said the “tax reform package is a very good step in a positive direction to overhaul our nation’s tax code for the first time in 31 years and allows people to keep more of their income.”

“I’m pleased to see this plan provides tax cuts to our hard-working residents by doubling the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families. A typical middle-income family of four in New Hampshire, earning $59,000, will receive a $1,182 tax cut per year,” he explained.

But Shaheen, a former three-term governor, countered: “That sounds good on face value, but analyses that have looked at it say that if you look longer term, because fewer people will itemize, they will not get the benefits of the state and local tax deductions, which will have a huge impact.”

“This is plan that says for the biggest corporations, ‘We’re going to make your tax reductions permanent,’ but middle class families, your tax reductions are only going to be temporary,” she said. “So we’re going to see everybody who earns $75,000 or less see a tax increase in a couple of years. I don’t think that’s a good tax plan for families in New Hampshire.”

Shaheen also slammed the bill for its provision to repeal the health insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, saying “that ultimately undermines health insurance.”

“It means 13 million people are going to lose their health insurance. It means rates are going to go up,” she said.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week. All 48 senators in the Democratic caucus are expected to oppose the bill. There are 52 Republicans in the 100-member chamber, and a handful have expressed reservations about the measure.

“This is a bad plan. It’s been done behind closed doors,” Shaheen said. “It needs to be scrapped, and we need to work together to get a good plan that will benefit the country.”