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Tax reform or tax cuts?

02 October 2017

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans released their latest framework for tax reform earlier this week, finally pushing forward a key campaign plank on which the president rallied support during the run-up to the 2016 election. If the GOP uses budget reconciliation rules to expedite tax reform (and it nearly certainly will), then the party must make this legislation "revenue-neutral", meaning that the new tax system can't cost the government more money than it brings in.

In the days leading up to the release of the Framework, senior legislative officials have provided assurances to members of our Financial Services and Tax Policy group that the municipal bond tax exemption will be retained.

The tax overhaul promises a simpler tax code.

The cost of owning a house would increase for many Californians under President Trump's tax proposal.

But he said there is a trend in the proposals from Trump and Congress that seems to favor Republican-dominated states over Democratic ones. It could increase the deficit enormously. "It delivers massive tax cuts to millionaires and giant corporations and kicks working families to the curb".

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It "could more accurately be seen as an incentive to high-tax states like California to lower its state tax burden to remain competitive with other states like Nevada, Florida and Texas", Republican Senator Jeff Stone said in a statement. In return, taxpayers would get a higher standard deduction, a simplified code, and fewer brackets.

The plan will provide "the lowest top marginal income tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses in more than 80 years". But in 2027, they would pay $820 more than if nothing changed. For those wealthy taxpayers, their after-tax incomes would increase 8.5 percent next year.

Pressed on whether Trump himself could see a tax cut under the plan, Cohn told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the administration is "very confident that Americans are getting a great deal here". However, the Additional Child Tax Credit allows qualifying taxpayers to convert the first $1,000 of the Child Tax Credit into a refundable credit.

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the association, said Trump is a leader "who has made manufacturing the engine of our country". Republicans would slash the corporate tax rate would from 35 percent to 20 percent, cut taxes on "pass-through" companies, repeal the alternative minimum tax (which applies to certain upper-income households) and end the estate and gift tax, which is paid primarily by the most wealthy.

This was too much to ask for. Also, those with the lowest income who now fall in that 10 percent grouping would have a higher tax rate, but supporters say with a higher deduction they'd pay less overall.

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And people making $150,000 to $300,000 a year would also get hit.

Yet the most striking element of the plan offers a windfall to those who have the most, cutting the highest rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

Those drafting the law must also decide how long the tax cuts would last.

Republicans won't want to do any of those things.

They risk yet another embarrassing debacle if they stick to the same losing tactic on taxes.

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"In an era of rising populism, the Big Six's tax framework is a major tax cut for businesses and the very highest income Americans and only a small tax cut for middle-income households", concludes an overview of the report, written by tax policy expert Howard Gleckman.

Tax reform or tax cuts?