GOP’s 2018 budget blueprint would give billions in tax breaks for millionaires
By MICHAEL BAKER and DANIEL WATTERSBORO, APPOLITICS StaffThe House GOP’s blueprint to overhaul the tax code would give tax breaks to wealthy individuals at a time when the economy is growing at the slowest pace since the financial crisis, according to a nonpartisan group that analyzed the plan.
The blueprint would also boost the top rate on investment income and allow companies to deduct more of the cost of their workers’ health insurance premiums from their federal tax bills, but the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) said Thursday that those provisions are unlikely to be a major part of the plan, given the party’s narrow majority in Congress.
The plan includes a variety of incentives for the wealthy to save more for retirement and other investments, the panel said in a report that was released Thursday.
The top individual rate on income from investments will be lowered to 25% from 39.6%, with a separate “pass-through” tax deduction for people who file as partnerships, S corporations or LLCs.
The pass-through provision is aimed at giving high-income earners a bigger tax break, and it would allow them to take advantage of a provision in the plan that limits the ability of businesses to deduct payroll taxes from their workers.
But that’s not likely to be enough to offset the costs of those deductions.
The committee also said the GOP plan would allow corporations to deduct the costs for employees’ health care insurance premiums for one year and would allow the deduction for up to $500,000 of a worker’s wages in 2016.
That deduction, which would be available for workers earning $75,000 or less, is part of a broader package of tax cuts designed to spur economic growth and help the nation’s middle class.
The GOP proposal also would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, a top Republican proposal aimed at discouraging companies from moving jobs overseas.
But the GOP blueprint would keep the tax on capital gains and dividends and would make the tax system fairer by removing the tax credit for business investments that grow their value over time.
The JCT said the proposal would also allow people to deduct employer-provided health insurance expenses up to an average of $25,000 a year, but that would be a drop from the current $100,000 maximum.
The group said the plans also would allow workers to deduct expenses for medical care and medical devices, including a $50,000 deduction for dental work.
It did not say whether that deduction would be included in the full plan.
But it said the plan would also give workers the ability to deduct their own expenses such as the cost to send a child to school.
The report found that the GOP tax plan would benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class and that it would have the largest impact on the poor.
The proposal would increase the number of people who would qualify for the child tax credit, and for many middle-class families, the credit would be capped at $2,000, according the report.
The nonpartisan panel also found that a majority of the GOP proposal would benefit wealthy individuals.
In a section titled “Rising Taxes for the Rich,” the report said that in 2022, the wealthiest 1% of Americans would receive an average tax cut of $3,500, while the poorest 10% would get an average increase of $7,400.
That would mean a top tax cut for the richest 1% would total more than $2.7 trillion.
The richest 1%, meanwhile, would get a tax cut on average of about $17,400, while a bottom-line tax cut would amount to just under $6,400 per person.
The wealthiest 10% of households would get the biggest tax cuts on average, with an average reduction of $12,800, or about $15,000 per person, the report found.
But in 2022 only 15% of people would be receiving any tax relief from the GOP plans, and in 2026 only 9% of the poorest 20% of taxpayers would see any tax increase.
In 2022, only 20% were eligible for the tax cuts.
For the poor, the plan offers more favorable coverage.
About 10% will get tax relief in 2022 and 2026, and 20% will receive an overall tax cut in 2027.
But by 2027, only about 8% of poor families would get any tax break and only 6% would receive any tax benefit.
The Joint Committee found that, by 2035, nearly three-quarters of Americans with household incomes of $75 or more will qualify for tax credits, and most will receive at least some tax relief.
For middle-income households, the numbers look very different.
The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization, said that, in 2022 alone, the average tax credit would rise to $2 for the middle 10% and to $7 for the top 1% — a difference of about 20%.