Dem Senate campaign arm hits GOP lawmakers over Trump tax law

Dem Senate campaign arm hits GOP lawmakers over Trump tax law
© Greg Nash

The Democratic Senate campaign arm is launching digital ads targeting seven Senate Republicans for their votes in favor of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE’s 2017 tax overhaul.

The five-figure ad campaign by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) takes particular aim at a provision in the law that raised the amount of taxes some military families pay on their survivor benefits.

The GOP targets are Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Planned Parenthood targets GOP senators in seven-figure ad campaign Political ad spending set to explode in 2020 MORE (Ariz.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Democratic challenger to Joni Ernst releases ad depicting her as firing gun at him Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members MORE (Iowa), David Perdue (Ga.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Planned Parenthood targets GOP senators in seven-figure ad campaign MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Planned Parenthood targets GOP senators in seven-figure ad campaign MORE (N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Texas), all of whom are facing reelection in 2020.

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“Cory Gardner voted for a tax law that HIKED taxes on Colorado Gold Star families, forcing some military families to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes on their survivor benefits,” one Facebook ad reads. The ads were first obtained by The Hill.

The tax increase in question specifically affects military spouses who signed over survivor benefits to their children.

Before the 2017 law was passed, survivor benefits allocated to children were taxed at the parent’s rate. But due to a change in the so-called kiddie tax, which has to do with taxing the “unearned income” of children at a higher rate, such benefits can be taxed at a rate of up to 37 percent.

That some Gold Star families had seen taxes rise on their earned benefits under the 2017 law was first reported last month by Task & Purpose, a website that focuses on military news.

Republicans have said that they had initially sought to simplify the kiddie tax, and that the increase for Gold Star families had been an unintended consequence of that.

A bipartisan bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyLawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to allow new parents to advance tax credits Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills MORE (R-La.) seeks to amend the tax code so that benefits signed over to the children of fallen service members would be taxed as earned income.

Nearly three dozen senators, including Collins, Tillis and Cornyn, have co-sponsored the measure, though the other four lawmakers targeted by the DSCC ads have yet to sign onto it.

Democrats are eager to make gains in the Senate in 2020 after a tough electoral map in last year’s midterm elections, and Republicans like Gardner and Collins are among their top targets.

The DSCC's latest ad campaign suggests that Democrats are hoping to seize on the 2017 tax law, which has struggled with low popularity ratings. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found that just 27 percent of U.S. adults approve of the law.

"Republican senators voted to give tax handouts to wealthy CEOs and huge corporate special interests while hiking taxes on families who have lost a loved one in military service,” Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the DSCC, said.

“We’ll make sure voters don’t forget that these vulnerable GOP senators helped pass a reckless law forcing Gold Star families to pay higher taxes on survivor benefits, and that many of them are not even working to pass the bipartisan bill to clean up this mess and fix this cruel penalty.”