The following conversation is a rough approximation of one I just recently had with a few of my co-workers:
Them: Do we make enough money that we will benefit from these tax cuts? Or are we getting screwed like everyone else?
Me: Do you itemize?
Me: Everyone who doesn’t itemize is going to benefit from this.
Them: What? Really? That can’t be right. Let me Google that. Oh damn you’re right. I wonder why nobody talked about that?
In case you think I’m making this up, feel free to consult The Washington Post, who provides this friendly chart, showing you approximately how much of a tax cut you’ll be getting. It varies from state to state – generally better results for red states, and less favorable results for blue states, due to the elimination of the state and local income tax deduction. But (and I really can’t emphasize this enough), that only matters if you itemize.
Using California as a blue-state example, let’s take a look at the breakdown of who gets a tax break and who doesn’t. Sure looks like a lot of green on that chart, doesn’t it? And that’s for single people, for married couples with two children, the chart is entirely green. But getting back to our point about itemization, let’s focus in on that very bottom row, for people taking the standard deduction, yet again, it’s entirely green.
Who actually itemizes their tax returns? The Tax Foundation provides a useful summary. Only 30% of tax returns are itemized, so two out of every three people are essentially guaranteed to be getting a tax cut here. And itemization, of course, becomes increasingly common the more money you make – meaning that the wealthy are far more likely to be harmed by changes that penalize itemization. This graph provides a nice summary:
To summarize, the GOP tax bill provides tax cuts for virtually everyone who does not itemize, which is a group that mostly includes low income people. It occasionally, but rarely, will lead to tax increases for people who itemize, a group that mostly includes high-income people. This general pattern holds true across all states and demographics. Be sure to make this clear to your friends and family. They have largely been sold a bill of goods about this plan which claims it’s all about huge tax cuts for the rich with nothing of substance for the lower or middle class. This is patently false.
To answer my co-worker’s final question: “Why hasn’t anyone talked about that?” I’d suggest that the answer is twofold. The left is dishonest – left-wing politicians and their paid shills in the mainstream media have intentionally and deliberately lied about this bill in their obsession with trying to tear down Trump. And the right is stupid – they’ve spent all their time talking about “job growth” that’s supposed to happen from the corporate tax reduction, trying to defend unpopular trickle-down economics rather than focusing on the one major huge win from this legislation – the doubling of the standard deduction.
In any case, the facts are clear. People who do not itemize (which are typically lower-income people) are getting a tax cut. Period. Now go out there and make sure everyone understands this.
My pay is around $50,000. I do itemize because I’m a homeowner and my mortgage interest and property tax (especially the property tax!) are so huge. But I did expect to see a small increase in my January 2018 paycheck. Checked today — it’s $1.87 lower than previously.
Of course, it’s possible that state / local taxes have gone up, or something to do with my insurance, etc. And the tale won’t really be told until I file for 2018. But anyway, right now I say, thanks for nothing, Republicans.