The House Republican tax plan is a mixed bag — a boon to the wealthy but problematic for individual taxpayers, depending on deductions; heavy on big business benefits but not so much for their smaller counterparts.
The House GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Plan — which Trump calls the “Cut, Cut, Cut Tax Act” — would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Republicans would end popular deductions affecting the housing industry, high-tax states and families.
While skewed toward U.S. multinationals, it does attempt to recoup some taxes avoided by using overseas machinations.
House Republicans would collapse 11 tax brackets into four — 39.6 percent, 35, 25 and 12. The bill describes people making $450,000 as “low- and middle-income,” which is reality challenged.
In fact, U.S. median income is $59,03. A family of four at that level could see its tax bill drop from $1,182 to $400. Here’s how the rest of it plays out:
Those earning less than $24,000 would pay no income tax. Married taxpayers filing jointly making up to $90,000 would be in the 12 percent bracket; those with earnings up to $260,000 would be in the 25 percent bracket.
Those “middle-income” couples taking home $470,700 up to $1 million would be in the new 35 percent bracket.
Millionaires would remain in the 39.6 percent rate.
The earnings would be half the amounts for unmarried individuals or those filing separately, except for the 35 percent bracket, which would be $200,000 for unmarried individuals.
The standard deduction for middle-class families would nearly double from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples and from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals.
The child tax credit would expand to $1,600 from $1,000 with a $300 credit for each parent and nonchild dependent, such as older family members. The credit would expire after five years.
The Alternative Minimum Tax, which prevents many tax breaks for the wealthy, would be eliminated. Without the AMT, Trump reportedly would have owed $31 million less in 2005 — the most recent year for his known tax returns.
The estate-tax exemption — currently slightly above $5 million — would be repealed after six years.
Residents in expensive states — read “Democratic-controlled” — would face the elimination of state-tax deductibility, a $500,000 mortgage-interest deduction limit and a $10,000 cap on property tax deductions.
The housing industry is unhappy with the latter two changes.
Popular deductions facing elimination include the adoption tax credit of $13,750 per child; alimony; classroom costs borne by teachers; disaster losses from flood, fire or tornado unless the event gains special congressional treatment; capital gains on sales of homes under $500,000 if not the primary residence for five of the last eight years; major medical costs; moving expenses for a new job and tax-preparation fees.
Sports fans would take a hit with the elimination of college booster donations in return for preferential seats or parking and interest-free stadium bonds issued by state and local governments.
The 35 percent statutory tax rate for U.S. corporations would be slashed to 20 percent. The effective rate of 18.6 percent with credits and deductions is fourth-highest among the Group of 20 countries. Even the Obama administration had backed a 28 percent rate.
Small businesses (“pass throughs”) could use a break, too, because many are assessed at “pass-through” rates — personal income rate — up to 39.6 percent.
While Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, called the tax plan a “home run” for economic growth, it didn’t make it to first base with The National Federation of Independent Business, representing 325,000 small businesses, because it “leaves too many small businesses behind.”
To recapture some of the $2.5 trillion in corporate profits the administration claims is stashed offshore, the bill would levy a global minimum tax of 10 percent on income high-profit subsidiaries of U.S. companies earn overseas. Corporations would pay a one-time 12 percent tax on liquid assets (cash) held overseas, while other assets (equipment or property) would face a 5 percent rate.
U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations would pay a 20 percent excise tax on payments to their parents’ affiliates.
Smaller “pass-through” companies would pay a 25 percent rate, but only on 30 percent of their business income. The bill attempts to exclude “service firms” — law, accounting, etc. — from the lower rate.
This tax cut bill — like the health reform bills — may squeak through the House if it can overcome the qualms of Republicans in blue states. However, eventual success may be predicated on a compromise with the debt-wary Senate over the corporate rates and elimination of popular deductions.
While we believe some business rate reductions are in order, we remain wary of an ever-growing federal debt, which once was a big Republican concern. Most economists don’t buy the claim economic growth will offset lost revenues.