Who Benefits From Trump’s Tax Plan?

Who are the Winners & Losers in Trump’s Proposed  Tax Plan

While the details are just emerging and the final plan is sure to change, the tax overhaul that Trump & the Republican party recently unveiled has clear beneficiaries; and early indications are it is NOT the “middle class”.  In fact, according to this analysis, Trump’s tax plan will see the majority of the benefits—i.e. tax cuts— to the rich; particularly the top 1% & 0.1%.

 In Indianapolis last Wednesday, Trump outlined his proposal and stated, “…the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor and as wages start going up at levels that you haven’t seen in many years…”.   This is your classic “trickle down economics” argument that has been made for decades; that by cutting taxes on big businesses and the wealthy, the average American worker will see the benefits work their way down to them in the form of higher wages and more jobs.  The only problem is that study after study has shown these benefits never really reach the middle class.  Staying true to theory of trickle down, Trump proposes slashing taxes dramatically for Americans who earn north of $730,000 a year.

What’s in Trump’s Tax Plan? 

Although far from finalized, the main points of the plan that affect Individual taxpayers are:

  1. Reduce the tax bracket from seven brackets to three: with tax rates of 12%, 25% and 35% percent with a possibility of adding a fourth bracket.
  2. Doubling the standard deduction from $6,000 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,000 to $24,000 for those married filing jointly.
  3. Creation of a new tax credit for non-child dependents while increasing the current child tax credit.
  4. Elimination of most itemized deductions but keeping the mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions.  Tax incentives for retirement saving and education plans will be retained; i.e SEP, Traditional, Roth IRA’s and 529 college saving plans etc.

As far as business & corporate taxes, this proposal is just as ambitious.  In President Trump words: “This will be the lowest top marginal income tax rate for small and midsize businesses in this country in more than 80 years…”.  Under this plan, businesses and corporations would see:

  1. A decrease in overall tax rate from 35% to 20%
  2. A new tax rate of 25% for “pass-through” income for businesses like sole proprietorships and partnerships which currently make up nearly 95% of all businesses which are taxed at the rate of their owners.
  3. Limitation of the deductibility of corporate interest expenses, in exchange for the option to immediately expense business investments
  4. Preserves tax credits for research and development and low-income-housing from a business standpoint.

Although the tax plan has a vast amount of changes for individuals & business on many levels, the benefits overwhelming favor the affluent and business owners.

How is the Public Reacting to the Trump Tax Plan?

Proponents of this tax plan for companies are overjoyed: “An encouraging step forward in our shared goal of a tax system that delivers higher economic growth, job creation and wages that our country desperately needs.” said Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase and the chairman of the Business Roundtable.  John Stephens, the AT&T chief financial officer, said it was “A big step toward meaningful reform that would encourage more investment and job creation in the United States.”

Opponents like Edward D. Kleinbard, a tax expert at the University of Southern California law school calls Trump’s Tax Plan “a very cynical document…The extraordinary thing about the proposal is that we know that it loses trillions of dollars in revenue, yet at the same time the only people we can identify as guaranteed winners are the most affluent.”  Even Republican Rand Paul recently came out against Trump’s tax plan calling it a “middle class tax hike”.


This analysis from the Tax Policy Center above clearly illustrates how the current tax proposal favors the wealthy; particularly  the top 1 percent and top 0.1% them.  Pay particular attention to the Share of Total Federal Tax Change.  It breaks down U.S. income earners into 5 categories—from those making the least in the lowest quintile to those making the most in the top quintile.  As you can see, the top quintile reaps a whopping 86.6% of these potential tax cuts!  The other 4 quintiles combined would only realize 13.4% of these cuts. Parsing these numbers even further for the top quintile the majority of tax cuts go to the top 1% (79.7%) and the top 0.1% (39.6%) which equate to an average tax cut of $207,060 & $1,022,120 respectively.  Most Americans don’t even come close to earning the amount of money the top 1% would gain in tax cuts. 

Time & time again, Trump has pledged on the campaign trail and as President that the middle class will see the rewards of his tax cuts and it was time for the rich to pay their fair share by closing tax loopholes amongst other things. However, it is hard to come to any other conclusion than this tax plan, if passed, would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy and not the middle class. In fact, this plan may create even more tax loopholes that would directly benefit wealthy families.

How Does Trump’s Tax Plan Affect You?

If the previous health care battles are any guide, the political fight to get these cuts enacted will be fierce and has only just begun.  This means that the ordinarily taxpayer can most likely expect tax filing delays—similar or worse than in recent years—while congress bickers…especially for taxpayers who file early.  It will be a while before we can really dig into the ultimate affects of whichever Trump’s tax proposal is ultimately passed.  One thing is for certain: In it’s current form the only real beneficiaries to this proposal are those that make nearly a $1 million or more annually.  Because of all this uncertainty and the prospect for an increase in taxes for the middle class, hiring the services of a Tax Professional this tax season may be well worth the money as they can help you navigate this complicated tax climate as well as potentially unlock benefits you might ordinarily overlook.

If you’d like more information about out how Trump’s existing or eventual tax proposal will affect you, feel free to contact us via the web or call us toll-free at (888) APRIL-15 to speak to an R&G Brenner Tax Professional.

Please feel free to comment below on Trump’s proposed tax overhaul.

TurboTax Losing Customers By Hiding Price Increases

Are You Sure...You Wan't To Use TurboTax?
Are You Sure…You Wan’t To Use TurboTax?

TurboTax, the leading do-it-yourself tax software by Intuit, has caused an uproar with their customers claiming shady tactics of “price gouging” & “bait & switch”.  Intuit has removed popular tax forms from their Basic & Deluxe programs, forcing clients to upgrade their software by at least $30 in order to have access to the same forms that were in last year’s programs:

Starting this year, people who prepare their taxes on a personal computer can’t use TurboTax Deluxe if they want to electronically file common tax forms, including Schedule C for a business, Schedule D for capital gains and losses or Schedule E for rental property. Instead, they must upgrade to the Premier or Home & Business versions—which cost up to $30 more than the $50 Deluxe version as of Friday.

Customers with simpler returns face a similar issue: They can no longer use TurboTax Basic if they want to itemize their deductions on Schedule A, such as mortgage interest or charitable donations, instead of claiming the standard deduction of $6,200 for a single filer or $12,400 for a married couple. Now, they will need to upgrade to TurboTax Deluxe, which costs up to $30 more than the $20 Basic.

It’s not so much that TurboTax raised their prices, it was the manner in which they did it. They didn’t give any “heads up” to their customers who expected the same product to contain the same forms.  It was not until users tried to add their usual tax forms that they found out they had to pay more to get the same product as last year.  In fact, TurboTax has hundreds of negative reviews on a popular Consumer Affairs website, and currently has a 1 star rating (out of 5 stars) as a result of these backdoor tactics.

“The company seems intent on fleecing the customer by increasing the price with no product improvement,” says Don Rickelman, a retired entrepreneur in Naples, Fla. In the past, he says, he has used TurboTax Deluxe to report his investments, but now, like many other users, he is considering alternatives.

Over the last 5 years or so since the onset of the Great Recession, many taxpayers have been flocking to inexpensive DIY tax software as a way to save some much needed cash.  However, with a decrease in unemployment coupled with the sharp decrease in Oil, many taxpayers have less time and a little extra cash in their pocket this year as opposed to years past.  This could be good news for the Professional Tax Preparing industry this year; especially when it has been shown that taxpayers who prepare their own returns frequently make mistakes & miss out on deductions/credits that reduce their refunds.  With an unresponsive IRS, delayed refunds and the uncertainty surrounding the new health care tax forms & penalties, this is the year to have an R&G Brenner Tax Professional on your team!

Source:  Wall Street Journal

What California and Kansas Can Teach Us about the Laffer Curve and Tax Theory

The Real Laffer Curve?
The Real Laffer Curve?

Since the economic collapse that began in 2008, politicians and lawmakers all across the United States have been on the move to enact policy that will stimulate the economy and bring back jobs. Tax policy has inevitably become part of this national discussion. The Laffer Curve, an economics theory that posits that cutting taxes is beneficial for economic stimulation, has been put to the test in two real life scenarios that have played out in Kansas and California. The results provide significant evidence that calls into question the well-worn principle that a higher minimum wage decreases overall employment and income.

Arthur Laffer’s Theory

The Laffer Curve, one of the fundamental tenets of supply-side economics, was popularized by the economist Arthur Laffer in the late 1970s. As a curve, it merely demonstrates the relationship between tax rates and total tax revenues collected by the government. According to this construct, the effect of a lower tax rate is an increase in work, output, and employment whereas a high tax rate penalizes these activities. The curve is often used to explain and justify the pro-growth worldview of supply-side economics. It should be noted, however, the Laffer Curve does not say definitively that a tax cut will raise or lower revenues. For example, a tax rate of 100% wouldn’t collect more money than a rate of 25%, as no one would be willing to work for an after-tax income of $0. The value of the Laffer Curve is its ability to predict economical behavior based on simple arithmetic truths.

Kansas Tax Cuts & California Tax Hikes

In the case of Kansas, after the election of Sen. Sam Brownback as governor in 2010, the state rolled out a new tax policy, a virtual low-tax paradise that was eventually meant to eliminate the state income tax. Brownback’s administration consulted Laffer on tax cuts and enacted these measures in the hopes that, according to the Laffer Curve, they would help to fuel the stagnant economy. The measures, called “the largest tax cut ever” at the time, were enacted in 2012. It quickly became clear that Kansas’ economy was not following the upward trajectory the Laffer Curve predicted it should. As a result, the state’s credit rating was lowered, first by Moody’s Investors Service and later by Standard & Poor’s, who cited “a structurally unbalanced budget.”

Meanwhile in California, tax rates were rising as much as 30 percent, raising the sales tax to the highest in the nation at 7.5 percent. The Laffer Curve indicates that California’s job growth should have slowed to a crawl and brought the state’s economy to a grinding halt. This October Governor Jerry Brown was happy to announce that the measures had quite the opposite effect, stating “California is back.”

Contradictory to what proponents of the Laffer theory may have predicted, it was California that came out the winner. Jobs in the state grew at a rate 3.4 times greater than in Kansas, and non-farm payroll jobs increased 7.2 percent in California compared to just 2.1 percent in Kansas. California’s credit rating also improved, unlike Kansas’, which means that the state can borrow money at much lower rates than Kansas can. So what happened? Do these real-life contradictions mean that the Laffer Curve doesn’t work?

What Real Life Contradictions Mean

No economic model is perfect. If anything, what these real world contradictions tell economists is that their models need more refinement, but it sends a message to politicians as well. The real world will always trump theory, and changes in policy would be better based on actual data about the number of jobs and what they pay rather than projections, ideology and theory.

It could be that raising the minimum wage will, in the fullness of time, lead to different results. California’s economy could still collapse, and Kansas could see the job growth its experts hoped for originally.  Kansas may fall behind yet further with their frozen minimum wage. For now, it would be wise of policymakers to look at the results and take note. No theory, however compelling, should be more persuasive than real-life results.

Understanding Obamacare: How The Affordable Care Act Will Affect Your Taxes

How The ACA Affects Your Taxes
How The ACA Affects Your Taxes

Certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) are set to take effect in 2014, some of which may have an impact on taxpayers. The PPACA, more colloquially known as “Obamacare,” is the new healthcare law that sets up either a state or government run health exchanges. Along with the change in healthcare accessibility comes a change in taxes.

Whether you agree or disagree with the new law, there’s a good chance that your taxes will be affected by it in one of four major ways:

  • You could receive a tax credit to help you pay insurance premiums.
  • You will experience a tax increase on Medicare if you fall within a certain income bracket.
  • You will have an increased tax on any investment income if you fall within a certain tax bracket; or,
  • You will be penalized, via tax, for not purchasing some form of healthcare.

Receiving a Tax Credit

If you qualify (eligibility is determined by income, family size, and age) then you will receive a tax credit that will help you to pay your health insurance premiums at the start of 2014. In order to be entitled to the tax credit, an individual must earn between 100%-400% of the federal poverty line, or approximately between $11,000-$46,000 dollars a year. For a family of four, a family must earn less than $94,000 to receive any portion of a tax credit. 

Tax Increases on Medicare

If you make over $200,000 dollars a year as an individual or $250,000 collectively as a couple, the new law adds an additional 0.9% tax on your payroll taxes to pay for the Medicare expansion. The 0.9% tax will automatically be withheld from an individual’s paycheck if the individual earns more than $200,000 per year. However, if you make less than $200,000 per year on your own but are married and you and your spouse make $250,000 dollars or more collectively, the 0.9% won’t be withheld from your taxes—and you will be responsible for paying that amount at tax time. 

Tax Increase on Investment Income

Just like the changes in the Medicare tax, this tax increase also focuses on individuals making more than $200,000 dollars per year or couples who collectively make more than $250,000 per year. Unlike the Medicare tax, though, this hike only applies to a tax filer’s adjusted gross income rather than total income. Those who fall within this income category are responsible for an additional 3.8% investment income tax

Being Taxed for Lacking Insurance Coverage

One of the components of the Affordable Care Act—known as the Shared Responsibility Provision —specifies that obtaining health insurance in mandatory, and a fee will be incurred by anyone choosing not to purchase insurance. The tax will present itself in one of two ways in 2014:

  • You will be charged 1% of your income tax, or
  • You will be charged $95.00 per year (whichever one is more is what you’ll be responsible for).

The fee for failing to obtain insurance increases thereafter:  In 2015 it’s 2% of your income, and in 2016 it’s 2.5% of your income or $695 per person (the maximum fee per family is $2,085). Thereafter, the penalty is increased based on the cost-of-living adjustment. The idea is to eventually charge a fee that’s more or or less in line with the cost of obtaining health insurance, encouraging people to opt into the exchange rather than pay a high fee and received nothing in return.

Please let us know your experience in the comments section below–positive or negative–as it relates to obtaining health insurance on the newly created exchanges.

Fiscal Cliff Or Not Workers Will Feel Immediate Pinch

Less Money In Paychecks Regardless

Much has been debated about how long it will take for taxpayers to feel the affects of going over the Fiscal Cliff.  Yes, income tax rates could go up or down or popular deductions and credits limited or eliminated all together.  While these scenarios could take months or years to feel, the average worker is most likely going see less in their weekly paycheck as soon as the calendar flips to 2013.

The IRS has just delayed releasing the income tax withholding tables for 2013.

No matter what Congress does to address the year-end “fiscal cliff,” it’s already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from January paychecks.

Social Security payroll taxes are set to increase on Jan. 1, so workers should immediately feel the squeeze of a 2 percent pay cut.

But as talks drag on over how to address other year-end tax increases, the Internal Revenue Service has delayed releasing income tax withholding tables for 2013.

As a result, the American Payroll Association says employers are planning to withhold income taxes at the 2012 rates, at least for the first one or two paychecks of the year.

So while employee’s tax with holding may  remain the same at least for the first couple of week, that doesn’t mean they will stay the same after that.  Bottom line is there are still a lot of moving pieces that must be settled on and deciphered before we can accurately predict what the consequences will be.  However, paychecks will be less due to the Social Security Payroll tax increase almost immediately unless congress can do in 5 days what they couldn’t do in 2 years (don’t count on that Christmas Miracle).  And the tax withholding charts will also tell us if we are taking even less home in our paychecks and/or less home in our income tax refunds.  Stay tuned…

Source:  WPTV.com

IRS Plans To Increase Audits Of Small Businesses

IRS To Increase Small Business Audits

The IRS recently announced that it plans to increase audits of small businesses in the hopes of closing a $450 Billion gap.  This announcement is interesting because it come on the heals of a recent report that most audits of small businesses turn up nothing.  The eight significant audit areas the IRS will be concentrating are:

1. Fringe benefits. The IRS is completing its final year of research on employment tax compliance. Early findings from these audits indicate that employers are not reporting employees’ personal use of company vehicles on Forms 1099 or W-2. Look for the IRS to investigate the use of all company cars, especially luxury autos, in its audits.

2. High income/high wealth taxpayers. The IRS defines high income/high wealth taxpayers as those who bring in a total income of more than $200,000 a year. Total income includes all gross receipts and sources of income before expenses and deductions. Through 2013, the IRS will focus on taxpayers with a total positive income of more than $1 million who file a Schedule C business return. Last year, the IRS audited 12.5% of all individuals with incomes of more than $1 million, a significant increase from 8.4% in 2010.

3. Form 1099-K matching. The IRS announced that it will start Form 1099-K matching in late 2013. The IRS provided a reprieve from merchant card reporting on business returns for 2011 Schedule C and Forms 1065, 1120S and 1120; however, the IRS plans to change its approach after 2012 returns are filed. The IRS has indicated that it plans to pilot a business-matching program that can address a large amount of small business noncompliance.

4. Credit for small business employee health insurance. This credit, first available on 2010 returns, is now coming under IRS scrutiny. The IRS will examine small business employers and for compliance with eligibility requirements.

5. International transactions. The IRS will continue to focus on the international tax gap. The IRS’ third voluntary initiative for foreign bank account reporting is under way, and the IRS will be looking to aggressively pursue taxpayers who hide assets overseas. The IRS will also focus on offshore transactions for large and small businesses.

6. Partnerships. This is a new area of emphasis for the IRS. Expect the IRS to target large loss partnerships and specific abuses that emerge from early findings in this project.

7. S corporations. The IRS is interested in S corporation audits in which losses are taken in excess of basis on shareholder returns. The IRS will review basis computations in these audits to determine whether tax preparers are properly completing due diligence requirements before deducting losses on Form 1040. The IRS is also interested in the use of S corporation distributions to avoid payment of Social Security taxes. The IRS will focus on S corporations with income, distributions and little or no salary paid to officers.

8. Proper worker reclassification. Almost all business audits also include employment tax issues. In particular, the IRS is interested in worker status. The IRS understands that businesses have an economic incentive to misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. It costs about 30% less for a business to employ an independent contractor than an employee. The IRS thinks there is significant noncompliance in worker classification and will continue to focus its field examination resources in this area.

 Source: Examiner.com