Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has put forth a tax plan that would be good for him personally, but is that a bad thing?
Trump’s tax plan is designed to simplify the system and reduce taxes. Higher income earners, like Trump, would still pay the highest taxes, but they would also receive the most significant reductions.
“The top 10 percent are paying roughly 70 percent of all income taxes,” National Taxpayers Union Research Director Demian Brady told InsideSources. “So if you’re going to cut taxes it’s going to focus on the people paying the vast bulk of taxes.”
Trump’s plan plan primarily focuses on reducing income and corporate tax rates. Those like himself, with incomes above $225,000, will only have to pay 33 percent which is much lower that the current rate. The plan will also lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.
“The corporate tax rate is actually the highest in the world and he’s lowering that to actually one of the lowest in the world to 15 percent,” National Tax Limitation Committee Policy Advisor Peter Ferrara told InsideSources. “It would be a great gain to the economy which never really recovered from the recession.”
Ferrara adds that having a higher corporate tax is harmful to those with lower incomes. It provides less money for companies to expand, invest in new jobs or provide higher wages. National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow Pamela Villarreal notes the tax plan would benefit the rich but not necessarily at the expense of lower income earners.
“I think those policies would benefit people like him as a business person, you know as the hotel owner, but obviously it would also benefit other people as well,” Villarreal told InsideSources. “We think that while Trump’s plan accrues most benefits to the top half of income earners, we see that all people will fare better.”
The Trump plan includes a flat 25 percent tax rate for anyone making below the $225,000 mark. Those making below $75,000 will only have to pay 12 percent. Taxpayer Advocacy Services President John R. Dundon II likes some parts of his tax plan but is highly skeptical of the man behind it.
“I believe Mr. Trump’s tax ‘plan’ at present is little more than a tool for his campaign,” Dundon said in an email statement to InsideSources. “There is no feasible way to connect all the dots inside the plan with reality even with the most wildly optimistic visions of the future.”
Dundon is also a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. He doubts Trump would be the person to bring about the changes he is promising given his past business practices and ego. He adds Trump will likely go out of his way to reward his crony friends and other business owners like himself.
“I think a reduced business income tax rate would be great for employers,” Dundon said. “On the same note, I find it impossible to believe that President Trump would ever repeal ‘most tax breaks for businesses’ as his ‘plan’ presently asserts.”
Trump was attacked by critics during the election for his use of tax deductions and legal loopholes. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton denounced him Oct. 9 during a debate for claiming a billion dollar loss to his business that allowed him to avoid paying the same amount in taxes.
“The fact that we are going to have lower and flatter rates across the board I think will provide a good case for not having loopholes,” Villarreal said. “If the tax rate is low enough, especially the corporate tax rate, then there’s really no reason to have these loopholes.”
Trump defended his use of deductions by noting he paid exactly what was legally required. He challenged Clinton for not trying to close the loopholes during her long career as a politician. His current tax plan doesn’t eliminate the deductions.
“What he was saying in that exchange is that these deductions are allowed in our current tax system,” Ferrara said. “So if Hillary objects to them, then Hillary should try to change them but he wasn’t proposing to change them at all because the tax is supposed to be a tax on net income.”
Trump took advantage of a loophole that is designed to protect against losses. National Tax Limitation Committee President Lew Uhler notes that such deductions should remain in place. He adds that they were implemented in the first place so that businessmen are taxed on their actual profits instead of what they lose.
“I don’t think his plan makes any change in the deductibility of actual losses in a given year by corporations or by an individual taxpayer,” Uhler told InsideSources. “It would be inappropriate to make such changes because those deductions should be allowable.”
Nevertheless, reducing deductions could have a huge benefit. Brady notes it would mean less time and money spent on paperwork and advisors to navigate the complex tax code in search of possible deductions. It would also mean the government can’t single out certain industries and employers with different tax rates.
“Another problem with our code is all the time that gets spent doing this and all the money that is spent on tax minimization software and seeking out tax advisors and accountants,” Brady said. “It would not only reduce your net tax liability but also free up all the time and extra money that goes into preparing your taxes.”
Villarreal counters the claim by noting there actually wouldn’t be much in the way of economic gains. She notes the deductions are primarily the result of how high the tax rate is and thus lowering it would be more beneficial. A lower corporate tax rate could mean the deductions become unnecessary.
“I don’t think economically closing those loopholes are going to have much of an effect,” Villarreal said. “The reason those loopholes are there is the first place is because our marginal tax rates are pretty substantial. Every time the tax rates go up there seems to be a push for Congress to provide some kind of carve out for certain industries or certain groups of people.”