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 TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates 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 CollinsMaine House speaker announces challenge to Collins Senate seat GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyHispanic Caucus seeks to retain voice in House leadership Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' MORE (Ariz.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (Iowa), David Perdue (Ga.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocratic challenger leads Tillis by 1 point in North Carolina poll GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner MORE (N.C.) and John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks 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 CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump calls off Iran strike at last minute 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.”