On Thursday, House Republicans finally unveiled their tax reform plan. Overall, it’s a transformative move in terms of corporate taxes, and it should help the vast majority of individual taxpayers as well. There are holes in it, of course — and there are serious questions to be asked about blowing out the debt in the short term. But there’s no question that it would be a tremendous upgrade from the current tax system, which carries one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world and a massively complex individual tax system.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Corporate Tax Cuts Are Slashed Dramatically. The proposal lowers the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. That puts America in line with the U.K. rather than above virtually every other industrialized country. Meanwhile, pass-through corporations will see their tax rates reduced from 39.6% to 25%.
2. Individual Tax Rates Change, But Not An Enormous Amount. Instead of the current seven-bracket system, the number of brackets is reduced to four. High income earners will earn a slight reprieve for income between $418,400 and $500,000 (the top tax bracket now kicks in at $418,400); earnings of between $200,000 and $500,000 will be taxed at 35%, meaning a slight increase for some of those households; between $45,000 and $200,000, tax rates will be 25%; below $45,000, the income tax rate will be 12%.
3. The Bill Kills Medical Expense Itemized Deductions, As Well As Adoption And Student Loan Interest. This will be the provision the Democrats choose to target: if you have extraordinary health care costs, some of these costs will no longer be deductible. The tax deductions for adoption and student-loan interest also go away.
4. The Bill Limits Mortgage Deductions. The bill will reduce the amount of mortgage interest deduction available from loans up to $1 million to loans up to $500,000. This will particularly smash people who live in high real estate value areas, which just happen to be blue overall.
5. Executive Compensation Becomes Less Deductible. As The Wall Street Journal points out:
Businesses would lose the ability to deduct certain executive compensation above $1 million, which they can now do for performance-based pay.
That means bonuses are no longer deductible for CEO, CFO and the “three other highest paid employees” at a company.
6. The Tax Reform Package Repeals The So-Called Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment penalizes 501(c)3 religious organizations for supposed electioneering; now, the law will allow religious organizations to speak politically “assuming the speech is in the ordinary course of the organization’s business and its expenses are de minimis.”
7. The Child Tax Credit Increases…Some. While some Republicans wanted the child tax credit increased to $1,800, the bill increases it to $1,600. The House bill also creates a $300 tax credit for non-child dependents, but those are phased out in 2022.
8. Removing State Tax Deductibility. Right now, you can deduct the amount you pay in state taxes from your federal income. This bill would remove that capacity, slamming those who live in high-tax states like New York and California. But then again, why should the federal government subsidize higher tax rates in leftist areas?
Overall, this would be a serious restructuring of the tax code. It’s not enough, particularly in the individual sphere. But it’s a definite improvement.