3 Items on Trump’s Tax Cut 2.0 Agenda
President Donald Trump’s administration has repeatedly hinted at plans for more tax reform in this election year as the incumbent vies for a second term in office.
While there hasn’t been a formal presentation of what the tax reform could look like, there have been ideas floated by some of Trump’s top economic officials — and even the president himself.
Here’s a look at three things that might make the list for what Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called “Tax 2.0” Thursday.
1. A Middle Class Tax Cut in ‘Tax 2.0’
While the naming convention of Trump’s new tax plan seems to be still up in the air (White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow and Trump have both called it “Tax Cut 2.0” as early as Monday of this week), one of the biggest proposals of the president’s new tax plan is to cut the middle class tax rate.
The plan could cut the marginal rate of the 22% tax bracket to 15%, but some argue that actually wouldn’t do much because very little of that bracket’s income is actually taxed at 22%. Census data shows the median income for U.S. households is around $63,200, and the taxable income for those brackets in 2020 is $39,476 to $84,200 for singles and $78,951 to $168,400 for married couples.
“You would have some increase in after-tax income for the middle class, but it’s 0.001%, which rounds to zero,” Daniel Bunn, director of global projects for the Tax Foundation, said in a CNBC interview back in November.
Tax Foundation analysis shows that the wealthiest tax brackets would actually benefit the most, with the 90th and 95th percentile’s after-tax income increasing by 2.45%.
However, it would mean a $770 billion tax cut through 2025.
2. Indexing Capital Gains in ‘Tax 2.0’
Trump has floated the idea of eliminating the tax on inflation of capital gains before, which would be huge for investors. Here’s an example of how removing the tax would be a tax boon, especially for older Americans, per The American Spectator:
If you bought a share of IBM stock in 1970 for $14.81 and sold it today for $134.42, you would pay $28.46 in capital gains tax. Removing the inflation from that gain reduces your tax bill by 70 percent.
And it wouldn’t just help in the stock markets. It would also apply to property and 401(k) accounts. The American Spectator points to main beneficiaries being 99.9 million Americans owning mutual funds, 78 million homeowners, 30 million small businesses and all the farmers and ranchers who own massive acreage across the country.
Passing a tax reform like this, which Trump teased back in September 2019, would most likely lead to a wave of votes in the president’s reelection bid.
3. FICA Payroll Tax Reduction and Expanding EITC in ‘Tax 2.0’
A FICA payroll tax reduction was used to great effect in 2011 and 2012, and it could be used again to help workers keep more of what they own.
The Federal Insurance Contributions Act is what determines how much of someone’s payroll is taxed for benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare. Reducing the amount taxed under Trump’s 2.0 reform would allow workers to take home more income, which would in turn boost the economy because they would have more to spend.
Trump could also expand the earned income tax credit, which Fox News columnist Steve Forbes thinks is “far more efficacious in helping people escape poverty through work and far less harmful to job creation for the unskilled than raising the minimum wage.”
These are just a few of the things that could change if Trump and his administration decide to go through with a “Tax 2.0” reform plan. Some of these changes could lead to massive vote swings in the president’s favor, so it will be interesting to see where Trump takes his plans in 2020.
Also, it should be noted, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is unlikely to pass any tax cuts. So the tax cut talk all could be moot.