GOP tax reform appears likely in 2017 with Donald Trump as the president elect and Republicans holding a majority in the U.S. House and Senate. Mr. Trump promised big tax changes while campaigning. According to his website, here is a digest of his proposals.
Changes for Business Tax
Major changes to the taxes paid by businesses have been proposed by the president-elect. Trump would cut the corporate tax rate from the current 35% to 15%, but eliminate tax deferral on overseas profits.
For repatriated corporate cash that has been held overseas where it’s not subject to U.S. income tax under current rules, a one-time 10% tax rate would be allowed under the proposed plan.
The plan would also allow the same 15% tax rate for business income from sole proprietorships and business income passed through to individuals from S corporations, LLCs, and partnerships, which could cause a significant decrease in tax revenues.
Without getting very specific, the proposed plan proposes the elimination of “most” corporate tax breaks other than the Research and Development (R&D) credit. At-risk tax breaks could include unlimited deductions for interest expense and a bevy of other write-offs and credits.
On the other hand, the proposed Trump plan would allow manufacturing firms to immediately write off their capital investments in lieu of deducting interest expense.
Individual Tax Rates and Capital Gains Taxes
President-elect Trump proposes fewer tax brackets and lower top rates for individuals: 12%, 25% and 33% — versus the current rates of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%. The tax rates on long-term capital gains would be kept at the current 0%, 15% and 20%.
Proposed Rate Brackets for Married-Joint Filing Couples
|Taxable Income||Rate Bracket|
|Less than $75,000||12%|
|More than $75,000 but less than $225,000||25%|
|More than $225,000||33%|
Proposed Rate Brackets for Unmarried Individuals
|Taxable Income||Rate Bracket|
|$0 to $37,500||12%|
|More than $37,500 but less than $112,500||25%|
|More than $112,500||33%|
The head of household filing status would be eliminated in the proposed plan, which could prove to be a controversial idea. President-elect Trump would abolish the alternative minimum tax (AMT) on individual taxpayers.
Itemized/ Standard Deductions and Personal/ Dependent Exemptions
The president-elect’s plan would cap itemized deductions at $200,000 for married joint-filing couples and $100,000 for unmarried individuals.
The standard deduction for joint filers would be increased to $30,000 (up from $12,700 for 2017 under current law). For unmarried individuals, the standard deduction would be increased to $15,000 (up from $6,350).
The personal and dependent exemption deductions would be eliminated.
Child and Dependent Care
Proposed new deduction: The Trump plan would create a new “above-the-line” deduction (meaning you don’t have to itemize to benefit) for expenses on up to four children under age 13. In addition, it would cover eldercare expenses for dependents. The deduction wouldn’t be allowed to a married couple with total income above $500,000 or a single taxpayer with income above $250,000. The childcare deduction would be available to paid caregivers and families who use stay-at-home parents or grandparents to provide care. The deduction for eldercare would be capped at $5,000 annually, with inflation adjustments.
Rebates for child care expenses: New rebates would be offered by the proposed Trump plan for childcare expenses to certain low-income taxpayers through the Earned Income Tax Credit. The rebate would equal 7.65% of eligible childcare expenses, subject to a cap equal to half of the federal employment taxes withheld from a taxpayer’s paychecks. The rebate would be available to married joint filers earning $62,400 or less and singles earning $31,200 or less. These ceilings would be adjusted for inflation annually.
Dependent care savings accounts: Under the proposed plan, new Dependent Care Savings Accounts for the benefit of specific individuals could be established by taxpayers, including unborn children. Annual contributions to one of these accounts would be limited to $2,000. If the account is established for a child, funds remaining in the account when the child reaches age 18 could be used for education expenses, but additional contributions couldn’t be made. The government would provide a 50% match for parental contributions of up to $1,000 per year for lower-income families to encourage them to establish these accounts for their children. Dependent Care Savings Account earnings would be exempt from federal income tax.
Affordable Care Act Taxes
President-elect Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the tax increases and employer penalties that it imposes — including the 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income and the 0.9% Medicare surtax on wages and self-employment income.
The federal estate tax would also be abolished by his plan. However, it would hit accrued capital gains that are outstanding at death with a capital gains tax, subject to a $10 million exemption.
What about Congress?
Earlier this year, the House Republicans released the “Better Way Tax Reform Blueprint” and Republicans in the Senate proposed their own tax plans. These proposals would make numerous changes to cut taxes and simplify filing, which differ from Trump’s in some cases. However, despite some differences, members of Congress have expressed support for Trump’s plans and have vowed to act quickly.
When Might Changes Happen?
It’s likely that Democrats in Washington will oppose any meaningful tax cuts, and they can attempt to stall things in the Senate where the Republicans won’t have a filibuster-proof majority. However, the Republicans can use the same procedural tactics that the Democrats used in 2010 to enact the Affordable Care Act. Stay tuned, because it’s possible that Trump’s tax plan, or parts of it, may pass in the first 100 days of his new presidency. If that happens, we could see major tax changes taking effect as early as next year.