ALBANY, N.Y. — New Jersey and Connecticut are joining New York in planning to sue Washington over the Republican-led federal tax overhaul, the Democratic governors of the three states announced Friday.
Andrew Cuomo of New York, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey said they’re talking to leaders of other states that stand to be hurt by the federal tax plan that’s expected to cost taxpayers in their states billions of dollars.
“We’re going to be working together to form a multi-state coalition to challenge this in court,” said Cuomo, a potential 2020 White House contender who announced his intention to challenge the tax overhaul earlier this month. The three governors made their joint announcement on a teleconference with reporters.
Murphy said he expects the suit to be filed within weeks. No decision has been made on where the action will be filed, Malloy said.
The new tax code passed by Republicans in Congress and signed into law last month by Republican President Donald Trump caps a deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000. That deduction had been popular in high-tax, Democratic states like New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where many homeowners now face big increases in their federal tax bill.
“This is an assault on those states,” Malloy said.
Cuomo said the lawsuit could argue the tax law violates states’ rights and is unfair because it singles out Democratic states for political reasons.
The lawsuit will have to meet a high bar to succeed, according to constitutional law professor Michael Dorf of Cornell University’s law school. He said plaintiffs might need to show that Congress explicitly targeted certain states because of the political leanings of their residents, or convince the courts that the tax law violated states’ rights.
But he said the suit could still amount to a political victory if it fuels opposition to the tax law or puts pressure on Congress to reconsider it — even if the challenge is a loser in court.
“Any time you bring a lawsuit of this sort you have two audiences: the judges who will decide the case and the other is the public,” he said.
Top Republicans in New York have dismissed Cuomo’s lawsuit as an ill-advised political stunt. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox said that if Cuomo wants to do something to reduce the impact of the new tax code on New Yorkers he should address the state’s high taxes.
“It applies to every state. I don’t think they can claim it’s discriminatory,” Cox said of the law. “Some states have high taxes and some don’t. That’s up to the states.”
A message left with the Trump administration was not immediately returned.