According to an analysis by the New York Times, the tax plan released by presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday does not come anywhere close to living up to the rhetoric he has spouted on taxes for months. In fact, a closer look shows the Trump tax plan in effect gives tax breaks to both the rich and poor, and would almost certainly result in less total tax revenue flowing into federal coffers.
As the NYT’s Josh Barro notes, Donald Trump has not sounded like the typical Republican when it comes to taxes. On the campaign trail he has said he will take on “the hedge fund guys” and do away with the carried interest loophole. He has commented it’s “outrageous” that some multimillionaires pay so little taxes.
But despite that big talk by Trump, his plan calls for major tax cuts for the middle class and also for the richest Americans…even the hedge fund managers! It looks like the Trump tax plan is kind of like Christmas in September for rich and poor alike…except for fiscal conservatives who should be somewhere between upset and apoplectic about Trump’s tax plan. According to an analysis by the NYT, despite Trump’s promises that the new tax plan is “fiscally responsible,” it would lead budget-busting trillion-dollar deficits within a decade.
Trump tax plan math doesn’t add up
The current top income tax rate for normal income is 39.6%. The Trump tax plan would slash that rate to 25%, the lowest level in eighty years. The new tax plan would also reduce maximum rates on capital gains and dividends to 20% from 23.8%. Te corporate tax rate would decrease to 15% under Trump’s tax plan, and it also include a special tax rate of 15% for business owners (under half what they most business owners pay under the current tax system). The plan would completely end the estate tax.
Trump says he will make up for these tax reductions by “reducing or eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich.” However, (as the Donald very well knows) rich Americans actually already pay tax on most of their income, meaning you really can’t count on much revenue from closing rich people’s tax loopholes.
Here’s the breakdown: In 2013, taxpayers earning between $500,000 and $10 million protected an average of 12% of their income from tax; for those earning more than $10 million, the statistic was 16%. Even if the above-mentioned deductions were completely eliminated (the Trump tax plan only proposes to reduce, not eliminate, them), it would not come close to compensating for slashing the top tax rate from 39.6% to 25%, a 37% reduction.
The Trump tax plan also proposes taxing investment returns related to life insurance that are currently not taxed at all. This idea (a good one) would raise more revenue than you might expect, probably close to $20 billion a year at Trump’s proposed tax rates, but even when you add in this $20 billion it still doesn’t come close to offset the overall revenue loss by reducing the base income tax rate to 25%..