In an economically rigged society where those with vulgar amounts of wealth chortle and wink and refer to themselves as "middle class," it behooves the rest of us to pay extra close attention to the shenanigans of our government, particularly those actions which purport to be in our best interest. Donald Trump has just proposed a massive tax restructuring, one which a columnist in today's New York Times referred to as a "heist."
Trump's plan is reportedly only one page in length and intentionally vague. "Vague" in this case means that it leaves plenty of room for lobbyists to elbow their way into the process and carve out sweet spots for their corporate and rich individual employers. By the time the "reform" is accomplished and signed into law the true middle class will have assumed an even bigger share of the tax burden than they were already carrying.
Trump's tax plan calls for the elimination of all but three tax brackets: ten percent, twenty-five-percent, and thirty-five percent. That lowers the top bracket by nearly five percentage points, meaning that the rich among us will all get a nice tax break. (Thank God! I was so worried that they might actually have to pay their fair share.) Back in the days when the "progressive" income tax came into being - under a Republican President - the top bracket was ninety percent. Now it will be just over a third of that, and the extremely wealthy will still connive and finagle their way out of paying even that pittance.
Trump's tax scheme also calls for repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, a measure that ensured the very rich would all pay something. The AMT reportedly cost Donald Trump an estimated $31 million on his 2005 taxes (the only year we know anything about), and now he wants to kill it.
The Trump one-page tax manifesto calls for lowering the capital gains tax from 23.8 percent to 20 percent, cutting off the 3.8% that was used to fund Obamacare. The idea of the rich helping to fund anyone's health care but their own must be truly appalling to a "businessman" like Trump who hires most of his work done through contractors so he does not have to pay benefits (like health care) to anyone. Let them work themselves into oblivion and then die - as God intended.
In another move toward tax "fairness," Trump would cut the corporate tax rate from thirty-five to fifteen percent. He thinks that would help to lure business assets that are currently stashed abroad back to America. Others see it as rewarding criminal behavior.
Trump also wants to eliminate once-and-for-all the pesky "inheritance tax," something Republicans have for years referred to as the "death tax." The inheritance tax helps to level the playing field between those who inherited their wealth, like Donald Trump, and those who were born poor and had to fight their way out of poverty. The act of inheritance itself recognizes and sustains privilege - and Donald Trump and people like him don't want to put their privilege at risk as it passes between generations. After all, a world without inherited privilege would have denied us the glories of Donald Trump.
On a more positive note, the new tax proposal would double the current individual and couple's allowable deductions and keep deductions for mortgage payments and charitable giving in place. It would, however, no longer allow deductions for taxes paid to state and local entities.
It would be nice to have one more piece of information before this scheme begins working its way through the sausage-making process in Congress: how will all of this impact the man who is proposing it? What effect will Donald Trump's tax plan have on Donald Trump's bottom line? Sadly, we can't have access to that information because Trump is flatly refusing to share his tax information - even though he earlier promised that he would.
Is Donald Trump lining his own pockets with these sweeping changes to the tax code? Will he personally benefit? Is it a "heist"? Americans deserve to know.
There should be no tax overhaul until Donald Trump comes clean about his own tax situation.
Trump, show us your taxes - or screw tax "reform!"