Tax cuts could fade

Published on Friday, 5 January 2018 23:26
Written by JOSH BOAK

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - It’s a Christmas gift the middle class might want to give back in a few years.

The Republican tax plan bestows an initial infusion of cash on nearly every taxpayer next year. That extra income is likely to please millions of households, support consumer spending and perhaps give the economy a short-term lift.

Ordinary households should enjoy it while it lasts. Over the next several years, multiple analyses of the bill have found, those tax cuts will gradually fade - and then morph into tax hikes for a majority of people who are solidly middle class.

Why?

Two features in the tax bill - a child tax credit and a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions - won’t adjust to keep pace with inflation, thereby reducing their value each year. What’s more, the individual tax cuts are set to expire after 2025. And once the individual tax rates revert to their former levels, a stingier inflation gauge would raise taxes for most households.

President Donald Trump has largely sidestepped these trade-offs in promoting the overhaul he’s set to sign, a measure whose benefits largely favor corporations and wealthy individuals.

Trump has said that “whoever” is president in 2025 would ensure that the expiring tax cuts for individuals are renewed. But doing so would cost heavily: The national debt would likely balloon by over $2 trillion - far more than the $1.5 trillion increase that lawmakers approved for the tax cuts - according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The rising debt could eventually force spending cuts to social and educational programs that serve many who aspire to join the middle class. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have both raised the prospect of reducing spending on social services next year, with Ryan specifically mentioning changes to Medicare.

Trump, Republican lawmakers and their allies are betting that higher take-home pay from the tax cuts will shore up public support for a bill that poll show a sizable number of Americans view unfavorably. They also appear confident that ordinary Americans will have no objection if corporations and the wealthy receive the bulk of the tax-cut gains so long as middle class households, on average, also receive some benefits.

More than 80 percent of taxpayers will receive a tax cut in 2018, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. These tax cuts skew most heavily toward the top 5 percent of earners. This group - with incomes starting at $307,900 - would collect 42.6 percent of the tax cuts. By 2027, they would enjoy no less than 99.2 percent of the tax cuts.

By contrast, a majority of people earning less than $93,200 would, on average, absorb a tax increase in 2027.

“The tax bill gives a big tax cut to corporations with the hope that, eventually, it will boost wages at the bottom,” said Elaine Maag, a senior researcher at the Tax Policy Center. “But it does seem a little counterintuitive that you would raise taxes on low- and middle-income families that are struggling.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Friday, 5 January 2018 23:26. Updated: Friday, 5 January 2018 23:28.