By Ryan Ellis
Presidential front-runner Joe Biden has made a startling promise if he’s elected president: repeal the entirety of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and to increase taxes by $500 billion on top of that. What does he want to do with the money? Besides an $8,000 day care credit giveaway, it’s the usual socialist tax-and-spend menu of government-funded healthcare, the Green New Deal, and assorted other payoffs to the Left’s statist constituencies.
When Biden and his several dozen competitors for the Democratic nomination for president hand-wave “repealing the Trump tax cuts,” they are actually talking about the largest middle-class tax hike in history. The median income family of four is enjoying an annual tax cut of over $2,000 thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
What are the specific ways middle-class taxes would rise under Biden’s plan to hike taxes on these families?
The first and most obvious answer is that middle-class tax brackets would go up. Middle-class families by and large fall into the 12%, the 22%, or the 24% tax rates on the margin (that is, on their last dollar subject to income tax). If Biden gets his way, these tax brackets would rise to 15%, 25%, and 28% (respectively).
The child tax credit under the Biden tax hike would be cut in half, from $2,000 per child to $1,000 per child. Part of this would be made up for by restoring the dependent exemption, but not all of it. For families of four making $170,000 or more, their child tax credit would go down from $4,000 (assuming two children) to $0.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also doubled the standard deduction, allowing millions of middle-class families to chuck the shoebox full of tax receipts on the top of their refrigerators. According to the Tax Foundation, the percentage of tax returns able to claim the standard deduction instead of being forced to itemize deductions rose from roughly 70% – 90% of all returns. Only the wealthiest taxpayers have to worry about the shoebox now. Biden’s plan would force middle-class families to again keep detailed receipts of charitable contributions, local taxes paid, home mortgage interest, etc., and therefore face a much higher chance of a dreaded tax audit.
Biden’s tax increase would also bring back the alternative minimum tax. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the AMT ensnared nearly 5 million middle-class families. All but eliminated by the tax cut Biden wants to repeal, the AMT was a parallel tax system with different rules and different rates. It made tax planning a nightmare for families in blue states and regions like New Jersey, New York, California, and Connecticut. It often resulted in nasty surprise IRS bills at tax time. It completely disallowed any deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes on your home. The Democratic primary voters in these states really ought to ask Joe Biden why he wants to bring back the AMT that President Trump lifted off their backs.
Family businesses owned by middle-class families would also face higher taxes. Besides the higher tax rates mentioned above, Biden’s tax hike would repeal the “qualified business income” deduction. Under this part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a family business with modest profits can exclude up to one-fifth of those earnings from the income tax. Effectively, that means that middle-class tax rates for small business profits are even lower than those for wage earners. By way of example, a family business in the 24% tax bracket only pays a business income tax rate of just over 19% thanks to this one-fifth deduction, but the rate would rise all the way to 28% under the Biden plan (due to repealing the business deduction and raising the regular tax rate back up to pre-tax cut levels). That’s a pretty large tax increase on Main Street businesses.
Those are just the big ways that Joe Biden’s tax increase plan would hike taxes on middle-class families. It would also impose the highest business tax rate in the developed world, once again shoving jobs and capital overseas. That means an end to the recent uptick in middle-class wages and the employment boom we are enjoying. It also means repealing the global minimum tax known as GILTI, the tax on shipping jobs and capital overseas known as BEAT, and once again allowing giant multinational corporations to park money abroad totally tax-free, forever. All of these, too, were part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
President Trump and congressional Republicans should be proud of passing a tax cut for middle-class families that not only lowered their annual tax bills by thousands of dollars per year, but also simplified taxes and reduced middle-class tax audits. They should be asking Joe Biden and friends why they want to reward multinational corporations by repealing a global minimum tax, ending an exit tax on jobs and capital, and once again allowing giant companies to stuff profits in secret offshore bank accounts. It’s high time that advocates for American taxpayers finally went on offense.
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