When the history of the current year in American history is written, the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill will likely take a very large role.
After a decade of economic contraction and listless growth, Americans demanded a new set of policies that would “make America great again.” And Republicans responded by passing a dramatic overhaul to the tax code that aims to break the hold of what liberal economists call “secular stagnation.”
The passage of the bill was greeted by the unedifying spectacle of the Democratic opposition, many in the mainstream media, and many leading economists joining to mislead the public about the Republican tax proposals. It played out almost as a Shakespearean play-within-a-play. But instead of Hamlet’s production of a play about the assassination of a king, we saw the blue-checkmarks of economics and budgets performing a miniature version of the resistance-without-regard-for-truth that has been performed by America’s orthodox elites ever since Donald Trump’s election.
Many of the reports about the tax plan, however, are demonstrably false. Others are not even wrong. Below are the top seven myths that critics of the tax overhaul have put forward–and the evidence that disproves them.
MYTH #1: They’re cutting taxes on millionaires while raising them for the middle class and the poor.
FACT: Middle-income Americans are the biggest winners under the tax bill.
Despite the ocean of ink and cloud-stuffing pixels spilled out to prove this point–and the more hyperbolic critics have described the tax bill as “class warfare” against the middle class and the poor–it is obviously wrong. The Senate bill, for example, cuts taxes for every income bracket and slashes the tax bill for nearly all taxpayers. In fact, middle-class Americans would see the largest deductions in their tax bills.
Here are the facts, all according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Middle-income Americans win the most. People earning between $40,000 and $70,000 would see their tax bills falling by 7.1 percent. People with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000 would see a 10.4 percent decline in their tax bills. Millionaires get just a 5.3 percent cut.
- And most middle-income Americans win. Eighty-one percent of taxpayers earning between $50,000 and $75,000 get a tax cut under the Senate bill, according to the JCT. For people earning between $75,000 and $100,000, 84 percent get a tax cut. The same with those earning $100,000 to $200,000. Just 80 percent of those earning a million dollars or more get a tax cut.
- A lot of families will owe no taxes at all. Most married couples with children earning less than $60,000 per year will have no income tax liability at all. That’s because under the Senate bill, the child tax credit rises to $2,000 per child. (Note, this is not from JCT but from the MarketWatch tax calculator.)
- It’s actually the wealthy that disproportionately pay higher taxes under the bill. Very few people would face a tax increase under the Senate bill, and those people are disproportionately wealthy. According to the JCT, just 10 percent of taxpayers earning between $50,000 and $75,0000 will get a tax increase under the Senate bill, largely from the loss of some deductions. That number is actually probably too high, however, because it was done before Senator Susan Collins of Maine proposed an amendment to preserve the deduction for state and local property taxes up to $10,000. For lower levels of income, the numbers are much smaller. In the $20,000 to $30,000 range, for example, just 5.6 percent will see taxes rise. Around 19.2 percent of millionaires, however, will pay more in taxes because of the loss of deductions.
One of the reasons critics of the tax cuts say the bill actually raises taxes on the middle class is that many of the cuts to individual tax cuts are set to expire after 2025 in order to comply with Senate budget rules. And it is true that if those tax cuts were allowed to expire, then taxes would go up for many Americans. But there’s no reason to expect Congress will allow the tax cuts to expire, particularly if Republicans keep control of either the House or the Senate. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. The New York Times explained all this years ago: temporary tax cuts are typically extended or made permanent.
When opponents of the tax bills say the expiration dates mean the Senate bill hikes taxes on the middle class, they’re not telling the truth.