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 TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election 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 CollinsCollins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster MORE (Ariz.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates Bipartisan momentum builds for war on terror memorial GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (Iowa), David Perdue (Ga.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards MORE (Texas), all of whom are facing reelection in 2020.


“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 CassidyBill CassidyGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff House passes bill to prevent shutdown and suspend debt limit Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid 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.”