Latinos say they didn't benefit from Trump tax cuts — here's why

Latinos say they didn't benefit from Trump tax cuts — here's why
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So many “beautiful” benefits were ballyhooed in the push for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, passed two years ago this week. The tax cuts would “pay for themselves,” electrify the economy and wipe out the deficit. Corporate tax cuts would “trickle-down” to American workers, raising wages and boosting productivity.

No group was supposed to reap the benefits more than the middle class.

“This is going to be one of the great gifts to the middle-income people of this country that they've ever gotten for Christmas," pledged President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE. “The focus is on middle-class tax relief,” said former Speaker of the House Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party MORE, who went on to say: “The focus is on directing that tax relief to the people in the middle and the people who are trying to get there. And that is why we put our emphasis on that tax relief for those people who are in the middle.”

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But according to a new UnidosUS poll released Thursday, if there was a middle-class miracle or great Christmas gift of lower taxes, it did not make it down the chimneys of most Latinos.

The national survey of 800 Latino adults conducted by Lake Research Partners from Dec. 4 to Dec. 15 found a plurality of Latino adults (43 percent) reported paying more in taxes following the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Indeed, just 10 percent said they believe that any money from the law went into their household.

The numbers dwindle further when it comes to respondents’ feelings about where the money went: just 6 percent believe the middle class realized any benefit; 4 percent believe the working class benefited, and a scant 2 percent believe workers in general benefited 

By contrast, respondents had strong views on whom they believe did make out. Half of the respondents say the wealthy helped most, and 2 in 10 think corporations gained the most.

These results align with other national polls, which also find high levels of disenchantment with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and virtually no trickle-down payoffs. A Gallup poll conducted earlier this year, for example, found that just 40 percent of Americans approved of the law. And a survey conducted in June 2018 by Politico/Morning Consult found that 51 percent of registered voters saw no increase in their paycheck because of lower tax withholding.

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Policymakers promised this law would help working people. The new UnidosUS poll shows definitively that the tax law hasn’t helped them and is leaving them behind. In a time of record inequality, the failure of this law to help middle-and working-class folks is unconscionable. We need policies that benefit all hard-working Americans, not just those at the top.

The thing is, the poll tells us that there are commonsense tax reforms that would help working people and earn strong support from Latinos. These include expanding and strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a tax credit for low- to moderate-income individuals and couples, particularly those with children. Latinos also favor eliminating some restrictions in the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which helps offset childcare and dependent-care expenses.

The poll found:

  • 83 percent support expanding the EITC
  • 66 percent support decreasing the minimum age to file the EITC from 25 to 18
  • 61 percent support increasing the maximum age to file for the EITC from 64 to 67
  • 88 percent support making the CTC fully refundable
  • 84 percent support creating an additional young child CTC for households with children under six

Without question, there is a good reason for federal lawmakers to consider overhauling the nation’s tax system to make it fairer. But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not deliver on its promise for hard-working Americans. 

It is time for a real corrective — one that delivers relief to middle and working-class people.

2020 is an election year, and lawmakers are put on notice — we need policies that make helping the working and middle class a priority.

It’s time to deliver real results.

Jennifer Brown is the associate director of economic policy at UnidosUS.