President Trump flew to Missouri Wednesday to pitch his tax plan as a great benefit to the middle class, but a new analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official scorekeepers, shows that many American families won't pay significantly less under the Senate GOP tax bill.
“We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas — hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present,” the president said last week.
Overall, the majority of Americans -- 62 percent -- would get a tax cut of at least $100 in 2019, according to JCT. The remaining 38 percent would either pay about the same in taxes as they do now or get a tax hike.
But by 2027, just 16 percent of Americans would get a tax cut of at least $100. The "winners" fall dramatically because the tax cuts for individuals go away in 2026 in the Senate GOP plan. Republicans argue that those tax cuts are likely to be extended by a future Congress.
Democrats have criticized Trump's tax plan as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy. Republicans have fired back that their plan cuts tax rates for everyone and makes U.S. businesses more competitive, which should lead to more jobs and higher wages. While the Senate GOP plan does cut all individual tax rates in the coming years, it also takes away some popular credits and deductions such as the state and local tax deduction (SALT). The result is that not everyone gets a tax cut.
Republicans have already been pointing out that a substantial number of millionaires aren't winners in this tax plan: Nearly 20 percent would see their taxes go up in 2019, according to the JCT and almost a third of millionaires would pay more by 2023. Democrats have focused on how the vast majority of the poor — those earning less than $20,000 — aren't any better off. Most of those people don't pay any federal income taxes, but they aren't getting any more of a refund.
For Trump, the most important selling point is tax cuts for the middle class. Among families with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000, JCT found that 80 percent get a tax cut of $100 or more in 2019, but 10 percent would pay about the same, and the remaining 10 percent would face a tax increase of $100 or more. Many of those people getting a tax hike probably itemize their deductions now.
By 2023, 15 percent of middle-class taxpayers would pay more. And over a quarter would pay more by 2027.
Wealthier Americans, earning between $500,000 to $1 million, appear to get the biggest benefits: 91 percent of them get a tax cut of at least $100 in 2019. In contrast, 46 percent of the working poor, who make between $20,000 and $30,000 a year, would get a tax cut of at least $100.
Many of the working poor filers don't pay anything in federal income taxes now, but some are eligible for refunds from the government where they receive money back, a tactic designed to encourage people to work. What JCT is showing is that only about half of those filers would get additional money in their pockets (a.k.a. larger refunds) from what they get now.
Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah) proposed an amendment Wednesday that would give the working poor a much larger tax break, but a White House spokesman said the president doesn't support the idea because it would require a corporate tax rate of 22 percent instead of 20 percent to pay for the bigger benefit to those families. Senate Republicans plan to vote on their bill Thursday or Friday.
“What we’ve seen is a mad dash to pass a bill that can’t pass scrutiny in daylight,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Wednesday night.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa responded that there is "very significant tax relief" for the middle class in the bill, "but you would never know it listening to my colleagues in the other political party."