The White House last Wednesday issued President Trump’s goals and the key features for tax reform to be begun in 2017.
2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs
The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut In American History
- The U.S. tax code is overcomplicated and fails to create enough jobs, or provide relief to middle class families.
- Since 2001, the U.S. tax code has faced nearly 6,000 changes, more than one per day.
- Taxpayers spend nearly 7 billion hours and over $250 billion annually on compliance costs.
- The U.S. has the highest statutory tax rate in the developed world, discouraging business investment and job creation.
- President Trump is proposing the largest tax cut for individuals and businesses in U.S. history.
- It will simplify the tax code, incentivize investment and growth and create jobs.
- It will provide historic tax relief for middle income families and small business owners.
The Need For Comprehensive Tax Reform
- An overly complex tax code is confusing and burdensome on American taxpayers.
- The last major effort to successfully reform the U.S. tax code was over 30 years ago under President Reagan.
- Today, according to the IRS’ National Taxpayer Advocate, the federal tax code is nearly four million words long.
- Congress has made more than 5,900 changes to the federal tax code since 2001 alone, averaging more than one change a day.
- The National Taxpayers Union estimates that Americans spend 6.989 billion hours at a cost of more than $262 billion on compliance and record keeping costs.
- Instead of a single tax form, the IRS now 199 individual income tax forms and 235 business tax return forms.
- Approximately 90% of taxpayers need help doing their taxes
- Today, with a corporate tax rate of 35%, U.S. businesses face the highest statutory tax rate in the developed world, and fourth highest effective tax rate, which discourages job creation or investment.
- The U.S. is out of step with its competitors, having the highest corporate income tax rate
among the 35 OECD nations and being the only nation that has increased its rate since
- A lower business tax rate will discourage corporate inversions and companies from moving jobs overseas.
- The high corporate tax rate keeps trillions of business assets overseas rather than being reinvested back home.
- Even President Obama proposed lowering the business tax rate to 28 percent to help spur economic activity.
Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs: The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut In American History
- Goals For Tax Reform
- Grow the economy and create millions of jobs
- Simplify our burdensome tax code
- Provide tax relief to American families-especially middle-income families
- Lower the business tax rate from one of the highest in the world to one of the lowest
- Individual Reform
- Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:
- Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets of 10%, 25% and 35%
- Doubling the standard deduction
- Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
- Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers
- Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
- Repeal the death tax
- Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income
- Business Reform
- 15% business tax rate
- Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
- One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
- Eliminate tax breaks for special interests
- Throughout the month of May, the Trump Administration will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input.
- Working with the House and Senate, the Administration will develop the details of a tax plan that provides massive tax relief, creates jobs, and makes America more competitive – and can pass both chambers
Breaking It Down
So, for individuals, President Trump wants replace the current seven tiers of marginal rates (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% respectively) with just three: 10%, 25%, and 35%. The President also stayed strong on his call to repeal of the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) imposed under the auspices of Obamacare upon certain net investment income of individuals, estates and trusts that have income above the statutory threshold amounts.
The President also wants to double the standard deduction while, at the same time limiting itemized deductions to mortgage interest and charitable contributions. He also wants to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax and estate taxes aka “The Death Tax.”
Finally, this outline also prescribes “tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses” and for ending “tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers,” but, given the vagueness of these points, I’m writing those off as low-priority talking points that are expected to be ground-up by the Congressional “Sausage Making Process.”
For businesses, The President’s plan is to reduce to maximum statutory corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% and to enact a territorial system of corporate taxation, which generally would exclude foreign earned income from taxation. At the same time, however, the President desires there to be a “one-time tax” on corporate earnings realized and held overseas and upon which tax is being deferred due to those monies not having been “repatriated,” i.e., transferred to the US.
My Informed But Inexpert Analysis
On this document itself – Despite that it’s generally being called a tax plan and despite the lamestream enemedia’s attacks upon as being such, this is not a plan. It is, vastly unsurprisingly, a CEO’s bulleted guidance to his senior executives on the subject of US federal income tax changes and reforms. It needs to be considered and critiqued on those terms and solely within that context.
On personal income tax reforms – It would be indeed a great simplification of people’s taxes. It would also be a small reduction of the tax burden of the upper financial echelons but a much larger reduction to the tax burdens of those in middle to middle-lower tiers, especially single income couples and families.
On corporate income tax reforms – If implemented something close to as envisioned, this reform would represent a 57% reduction to the maximum statutory taxation of American companies’ income by the federal government. This, combined with the proposed one-time tax on unrepatriated funds, could easily encourage more companies to either stop “partnering” with foreign firms to avoid the US’ currently punitive tax levels or, at least, repatriate more of their overseas profits, thereby actually adding those monies to the American economy. At the same time, the switch to territorial taxation – not taxing corporation’s foreign income at all – may well encourage more international partnerships but with a reversed controlling interest dynamic.
Frankly, in my opinion, this is a solid and solidly pragmatic approach for addressing a long-running problem, that of American corporations being taxed away or, at least, using – and sometimes creating through their lobbyists – loopholes to stay in business despite the crushing burden of a %39 corporate income tax.
Less thought of but possibly of greater import is that such a dramatic reduction of federal corporate income tax stands a very good chance of creating more C-Corporations (C-Corps). This would reduce, possibly begin to reverse, the 30+ year trend of C-Corporations declining in favor of S-Corporations (S-Corps) [Note: LLCs are S-Corps for federal tax purposes].
I’m not going to dive into details but suffice it to say that there would be many benefits from switching back to having many C-Corps vs. many S-Corps any these benefits would accrue to the nation as a whole, the government, and the companies’ employees as much or more so than they’d accrue to the owners and shareholders.