Monday, December 25, 2017
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
The White House Keeps Lying About Donald Trump’s Taxes
For the last time, the president can release his tax returns even if he’s under audit.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated on Tuesday the falsehood that President Donald Trump can’t release his tax returns — and thus settle ongoing questions about his financial situation — because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
Briefing reporters shortly after House Republicans passed their sweeping tax legislation, which independent analysts say would primarily benefit wealthy people and corporations, Sanders would not confirm whether Trump would personally benefit.
Instead, she pivoted to talking points about how “all Americans,” especially the middle class, would gain from the bill.
“On the personal side, the president will likely take a big hit,” she claimed several times without evidence. She acknowledged that Trump’s privately owned businesses would likely receive major tax cuts
“There are a number of provisions that would negatively impact the president personally,” Sanders said again, after more questions, and again without elaboration.
The American public cannot determine exactly how Trump would benefit from the tax bill because of his ongoing refusal to release his tax returns. Sanders brought out the same old dodge on Tuesday, saying that he can’t disclose his financial information because “the president’s taxes are still under audit.”
This is false. The IRS has affirmed that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
In January, President-elect Trump also claimed that “the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.”
House Republicans Pass Sweeping Tax Cuts For The Rich
Passing a deeply unpopular bill is apparently the “win” Republicans have been looking for.
The House passed the bill 227-203, with 12 Republicans voting no.
The bill is, without a doubt, Trump and the GOP Congress’ most significant legislative achievement since Republicans gained control of the House, Senate and White House.
But the “win” may end up costing Republicans. This bill is far from the congressional victory Republicans had sought to run on during next year’s midterm elections: It’s deeply unpopular, with approval ratings that were already significantly underwater and grew worse over the past few weeks as the legislation neared final passage.
A CNN poll in November showed 31 percent of voters viewing the tax bill favorably, with 45 percent opposing it. A poll conducted in the past week showed 33 percent supporting the bill, but 55 percent now against it.
hen Senate Republicans passed their initial version of the measure just a few weeks ago, many Republicans didn’t care that the bill wasn’t popular. Republicans simply believed the lack of support was due to bad polling and voters not fully understanding the proposal.
Likewise, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday morning that he had “no concerns whatsoever.”
“I got to say, if people are out there on TV telling mistruths, disguising the facts of this thing, that’s going to make it unpopular,” Ryan said, adding that taxpayers will be happy when they see changes in their pay next year ― both from adjustments to taxes withheld from their paychecks and higher pay from booming business conditions.
But the facts of this bill are what make it unpopular. For one, the bill repeals the individual mandate in Obamacare, which would result in higher prices for people relying on Obamacare for health insurance. And far from a “middle-class tax cut,” as Trump and other Republicans promised, the measure is truly a massive corporate tax cut ― the top rate goes down from 35 percent to 21 percent ― and a smaller tax cut for individuals in the seven individual income brackets.
Independent analysts have said wealthy taxpayers would benefit the most, in large part because they pay more taxes from the start. But households at every income level would see a tax cut next year, according to an analysis of the conference bill from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores tax legislation for Congress.
Starting in 2021, however, some income groups would start seeing slightly higher rates. And because the proposal sets most individual cuts to expire in eight years ― a budget gimmick to reduce the bill’s cost in a 10-year budget window ― all households earning less than $75,000 would see higher taxes in 2027 (due in large part to the bill including an unfavorable permanent change to the way tax brackets are indexed to inflation)
Republicans have waved off concerns about the sunsetting tax cuts by saying a future Congress won’t let them expire. That’s a change from Ryan’s position earlier this year, when he insisted the cuts be permanent. In the end, Ryan got half his way ― the corporate tax cuts are permanent, but the individual reductions are not.
Republicans finance these cuts, in part, by raising taxes on some people. The bill ends much of the state and local tax deduction, which lets filers write off the cost of their local taxes. As a compromise to some of the high-tax states most affected, the bill allows filers to deduct up to $10,000 of their local taxes by some combination of their choice. But that won’t be enough for many high-income people in states like New Jersey, New York and California.
As with an earlier version of the bill, a number of Republicans from New Jersey and New York voted against the legislation, though most California Republicans still got onboard.
Republicans chose a policy approach that came with a built-in political headache: They have been unable to guarantee that no household would face higher taxes under the plan even as it piles on all that debt.
If their bill simply cut tax rates, everybody would benefit. But because of the way the bill lowers rates while eliminating deductions ― thereby exposing more income to taxation in some cases ― Republicans have been unable guarantee a tax cut for everybody. So even though mosthouseholds would be better off under the changes next year, some will be worse off.
Still, the majority of the bill is “paid for” by increasing deficits. The measure would add $1.4 trillion to the national debt, the Joint Committee on Taxation said. Republicans have claimed that increased economic growth would boost business receipts and offset the revenue loss, though no credible economic analysis has shown that.
Republicans have largely ignored those criticisms by just focusing on how the tax cuts would boost the economy. They’ve also largely looked past the effects on housing, charitable giving and state budgets.
Those effects flow from a simplification of the tax code. The legislation would increase the standard deduction from $12,700 to $24,000 for a married couple (an increase Republicans have falsely characterized as “doubling” the deduction). Currently, only about 30 percent of households find it worthwhile to “itemize” for expenses such as mortgage interest, charitable donations and local taxes. With the bigger standard deduction, experts say only 5 percent would.
While their tax filing process would be simpler, for many households, the tax incentive to take out a bigger mortgage or donate to charity would be smaller, which could squeeze housing markets and the nonprofit sector. And a new cap on the amount of local taxes that can be deducted would put pressure on state lawmakers to either reduce those taxes ― resulting in less revenue for priorities like public education ― or shift them to other sources that are still deductible, such as business payrolls.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
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