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New Tax Bill Has Affluent Homeowners Enraged and Confused

The Republican Party can’t live on the dollars of libertarian billionaires and the votes of downwardly mobile white reactionaries alone. Without the support of culturally moderate, but fiscally self-interested suburban homeowners, the GOP’s congressional majorities would cease to exist. Highly educated, highly affluent blue-state suburbs put the Speaker’s gavel in Paul Ryan’s hand — and he then used it to pare back one of their favorite tax deductions.

There’s been a lively debate in recent days about whether the GOP’s deeply unpopular tax bill will become more — or less — politically toxic between now and the 2018 midterms. Pessimistic progressives contend that once voters realize the legislation reduces their short-term tax burden, they’ll view it more fondly. Others argue that the stench of corruption that clings to the bill will prove more potent than its meager middle-class benefits.

Well-off homeowners across the country spent the past week fighting for their tax planners’ attentions; waiting in long lines to prepay their 2018 property taxes, in hopes of getting in one last, unlimited deduction before the new rules take effect — then learning that those prepaid taxes might not actually be deductible, anyway.

Furthermore, the IRS’s guidance doesn’t define “assessed” — an oversight that’s proven confounding for New Jersey residents. As Bloomberg explains:

By state law, a New Jersey property assessor “shall determine his taxable valuations of real property as of October 1 in each year” – language that sounds promising for would-be tax cutters. But the same statute holds that the assessor “shall complete the preparation of his assessment list by January 10.” Ultimately, the “final assessment” is to be completed by May 5.