Trump tax plan: Relief for his voters but lots of unknowns

Posted May 03, 2017

National Economic Director Gary Cohn, left, accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, speaks in the briefing room of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, where they discussed President Donald Trump tax proposals.

Trump also wants to reduce the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

The White House said Wednesday that Trump had no intention of releasing his tax returns, which would help illuminate how the suggested changes would potentially benefit the Trump family's vast personal fortune.

Mnuchin said the plan "will pay for itself with growth", reduced deductions and "closing loopholes". "We hope this action today from President Trump and his team will advance the national conversation so we can get on with reforming our outdated tax code". In big families, this tax exemption can add up. On the campaign trail, Trump called for doing away with tax breaks for carried interest.

Although Congress is expected to present its own tax overhaul proposals, GOP leaders, including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, offered support for policies that lower the tax rates for individuals and businesses.

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The plan preserves the home mortgage interest deduction, but housing and mortgage industry watchers say the proposal to double the standard deduction would essentially nullify the itemized deduction on mortgage interest as a tool that promotes homeownership.

California famously has high income tax rates, particularly for the wealthy.

Beyond that, the Trump plan doesn't detail what other breaks he'd support curbing. Numerous remaining 30% who itemize, largely higher income households, would likely switch to the standard reduction, leaving only about 5% itemizing, he says. But this would also fall to 15%-20% under the Trump tax plan, providing a potentially huge windfall for high earners as well as reducing the government's tax take.

To qualify, business owners, such as developers, set up limited liability companies to pay them, thus avoiding higher income tax rates. Those less than a year old are most important, creating a total of 1.5 million jobs each year.

Alan Cole, an economist at the right-leaning Tax Foundation, has calculated that Trump's corporate tax cut alone would cut federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years. These would involve a combination of across-the-board cuts for individuals, the elimination of federal estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes, a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and a simplified tax structure.

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IRS statistics show the estate tax is paid by just the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans.

Rich people, including Trump, tend to report a lot of business income, Williams said. If the goal of tax reform is to boost the economy, then tax reform must start with small business.

Today, only the portion of an estate over $5.49 million is subject to the estate tax, at a top rate of 40%.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said Trump's tax plan would lower the business rate to 15 percent, make it a territorial system and utilize a one-time tax on overseas profits to bring back dollars to the United States. "Many midsize and smaller companies don't have access to the capital markets to the same extent large companies do", says Kate Barton, vice chair of tax services at EY Americas.

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