Analysis: Tax plan would cost $2.4T, benefit wealthy most

The tax framework that President Trump and congressional Republicans rolled out this week would reduce federal revenues by $2.4 trillion in its first 10 years and provide the biggest tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, according to an analysis released Friday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC).

The plan would also cost $3.2 trillion in its second decade, the TPC said.

The group’s analysis is preliminary, as the revenue and distributional effects may change as Congress fills in the details of the tax framework.

{mosads}But the analysis indicates that Republicans have their work cut out for them. Trump and several members of his administration have claimed that their plan would provide no benefit for the rich.

“I guess the short answer is we don’t agree with them,” said TPC co-director Eric Toder.

Every income group, on average, would see a reduction in their tax bill in the first year under the plan, according to the TPC, but the nation’s wealthiest would get the lion’s share of savings.

The bottom 95 percent of earners would see on average an increase in their after-tax income of 1.2 percent or less. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, would see an 8.5 percent increase, TPC said.

In the plan’s first year, taxpayers on average would receive a tax cut of $1,570, while those in the top 1 percent would see their taxes decrease on average by about $130,000. About 12 percent of taxpayers would see their taxes go up that year — including more than one-third of people making between about $150,000 to $300,000, largely due to the repeal of many itemized deductions, TPC said.

Over time, the effect of the tax changes would decrease on the lower end of the income spectrum.

“About 80 percent of the total benefit would accrue to taxpayers in the top 1 percent, whose after-tax income would increase 8.7 percent” by 2027, the report said.

By that point, about 25 percent of taxpayers would see their taxes go up, particularly among the middle and upper-middle class. Almost 30 percent of earners with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see their tax bill go up, as would 60 percent of those making between $150,000 and $300,000, TPC said.

In 2027, taxpayers would receive a decrease in taxes of almost $1,700, but those in the top 1 percent would see an average cut of more than $200,000 and those in the top 0.1 percent would see a average reduction of more than $1 million, according to TPC. Taxpayers in the middle fifth of income would on average see a reduction in taxes of $660.

The chairmen of the congressional tax-writing committees pushed back on the analysis.

Among other things, the analysis made assumptions about what income levels fall into each bracket, they said, and it didn’t take into account the potential fourth rate above 35 percent.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is helping to draft the tax bill as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, slammed the TPC’s report.

“This so-called study is misleading, unfounded, and biased. TPC makes a variety of overreaching and unrealistic assumptions about policy decisions Members of Congress still have to make as we draft pro-growth tax legislation,” he said.

TPC’s analysis did not use “dynamic” scoring that takes into account the economic effects of the proposed tax changes. Republicans say that scoring takes into account the broader impacts of tax cuts on the economy.

The TPC said it expects to release an analysis that includes dynamic scoring in the near future. 

Democrats, meanwhile, seized on the TPC’s findings to batter Trump’s proposal.

“This report on Trump’s tax scam is more hard evidence that the president and his out-of-touch millionaire advisors are executing a middle-class con job,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. 

The Republican tax plan calls for shrinking the number of individual brackets from seven to three: 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. The plan said tax writers might also propose an additional tax bracket above 35 percent that wasn’t included in TPC’s analysis.

Other proposed changes to the individual tax code include nearly doubling the standard deduction, eliminating personal exemptions, expanding the child tax credit and eliminating itemized deductions other than for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Additionally, the plan would repeal the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax.

For businesses, the framework also would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and lower the top tax rate for “pass-through” businesses, whose income is taxed through the individual code, to 25 percent. The plan would allow businesses to immediately write off the full costs of their investments for at least five years, while partially limiting corporations’ ability to deduct interest.

The TPC found that changes to the individual tax code would raise $470 billion in its first 10 years, while the business provisions would cost $2.6 trillion and repealing the estate tax would cost $240 billion.

Republicans say the tax overhaul will boost economic growth, helping to offset the cost. But it’s likely that they will have to find more ways to pay for the proposal.

While the TPC estimates the plan would add $2.4 trillion to deficits, the Senate GOP budget resolution unveiled Friday only allows for adding $1.5 trillion to the debt.

– This story was updated at 3:51 p.m.

Tags Kevin Brady Ron Wyden

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