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Archive for the ‘tax reform’ Category

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took a break from her daily deflections of allegations of sexual assault and collusion against her employer to kindly teach the nation a lesson on how the tax law works.

You see, President Trump has long promised once-in-a-generation tax reform, hoping to use the GOP’s majority in the Senate to pass THE BIGGEST TAX CUTS IN HISTORY while adding much-needed simplicity to our morass of a tax law. And that promise begins its path to reality on Wednesday, when the House is slated to release the first draft of proposed legislation.

If you’re curious about the changes expected to be contained within that proposed legislation, feel free to read here. But the nature of any proposed tax cuts was not really what Sanders’ impromptu dissertation was about; rather, she took it upon herself to address what many Americans are preemptively speculating as they anticipate the release of the GOP plan: will this be a big tax cut for the rich, at the expense of the rest?

What followed was nearly four minutes that no one who was present for the performance will ever get back, and the point was clear: if the richest taxpayers get a bigger tax cut than everyone else, that’s perfectly OK, because:

1.The rich pay more tax to begin with, and
2.While the rich may get the biggest cut in terms of dollars saved, the remaining 99% of taxpayers would enjoy a bigger percentage reduction in their tax bill.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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First drafts are notoriously difficult. Beethoven’s Fifth initially included an ill-conceived three-minute guitar solo. In his original sketch of the Mona Lisa, da Vinci had her giving the double thumbs-up. And Frances Bellamy’s first run at the Pledge of Allegiance regrettably concluded with the phrase “party on.”

Eventually, all three of these seminal works got it right. And so President Trump shouldn’t feel so bad about missing the mark with his first draft of a tax reform plan. He’s got ample time to turn mess into masterpiece.

That process begins now. Late last week, the Senate passed its budget for the 2018 fiscal year, calling for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade. An initial analysis of the plan President Trump released on September 27th, however, revealed that his first stab at tax reform would amount to $2.5 trillion in cuts. And while many might blindly believe that more cuts = better, this excess, as described below, poses no shortage of procedural and political hurdles if not corrected.

So how can the President fix his plan, making it economically feasible and politically palatable? Let’s take a look, beginning with gaining a better understanding of the shortcomings of the current proposal.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Back to the ol’ drawing board.

It was just 48 hours ago that President Trump released his long-awaited tax plan to an eager public. This was a plan, the President promised, that was focused on cutting taxes for the working man. As he put it, “Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected.”

The rich, he went on to explain, would not benefit one bit under his plan. This mirrored a previous promise made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in what has become known as “Mnuchin Rule.” The President was adamant:

“By eliminating tax breaks and loopholes, we will ensure that the benefits are focused on the middle class, the working men and women, not the highest-income earners. They can call me all they want. It’s not going to help. I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me. Believe me.”

Well, Mr. President, it appears as though you can stop worrying about rich friends calling to complain. They’re going to do juuuust fine under your plan, and so are you, as evidenced by an analysis released today by the Tax Policy Center. They and you will do disproportionately better, in fact, then the lower-class taxpayers you said were the focus of your tax cuts.

Oh, and as for America’s forgotten middle class? For those making between $100,000 and $300,000, well…there is a one-in-three chance they will be paying more in tax then under current law.

How did the GOP’s tax reform proposal so badly miss its mark? Before we dive in, let’s get a quick refresher on what the proposal had to offer.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Yesterday, President Trump and the “Big 6” — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch– released the GOP’s latest plan for tax reform. Hours later, the President gave a speech in Indiana to formerly introduce and promote the plan.

Now, some might suggest that the President is often prone to hyperbole. Or half-truths. Or outright lies. I’m not going to opine on that, because the reality is, there are many shades to the truth, and as George Costanza once said, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

But this is tax reform we’re talking about; a topic so foreign and frightening to most people that they need an advocate. Someone to parse through the empty rhetoric and leading language and tell them what’s real and what’s not. And when it comes to the President’s speech on tax reform, that someone is me.

So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve copied much of the text from yesterday’s speech below, with all of the President’s words in italics. I haven’t presented the entire speech, of course, because it would run for pages and pages, and also because no one really needs to read the word “tremendous” that many times in one sitting.

After the President’s comments, I have added my commentary, in regular type. My hope is to cut through the sales pitch and give it to you straight, so that you might understand what this plan really means to you and this great country. I hope it helps.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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First thing this morning, I was scheduled for an upper endoscopy. As the anesthesiologist prepared to put me under, he asked what I did for a living and I explained that I was a CPA who also writes about tax law, and that today was a critical day in the tax reform process. He then asked me about what I though the GOP’s plan would be, and as I got into the finer points of budget reconciliation, deficit-neutral tax reform, and dynamic scoring, sleep finally set in.

Ok, on to what you came here for. Last week, President Trump, in his preferred manner of speaking in absolutes, said the following when pressed on the pace of tax reform:

We have a tax plan that’s totally finalized.

Earlier today, the President, along with the so-called “Big 6” — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans all — unveiled their tax plan, and lo and behold, it IS in fact finalized, if by “finalized” you mean, “Seven pages of general highlights and a disturbing absence of detail.”

But hey, don’t be too hard on the Commander in Chief and the Big 6 (excellent band name); after all, tax reform is hard. To illustrate just how hard it is, let’s take a look at the parts of the plan that were made public today, and how each one presents significant challenges, both in regard to being politically palatable and economically feasible.

But first, let’s understand the biggest of all the challenges facing tax reform: fitting $5 trillion in tax cuts into a $1.5 trillion budget.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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I wasn’t always like this, I swear. There was a time in my life when if I wanted to satisfy my urge for tinkering, I’d kill a few hours on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, trying to determine exactly who my beloved New Jersey Nets would have to give up to acquire a young James Harden. But now…well, now I scratch that same itch by wondering, “Can I devise a revenue-neutral tax reform plan?”

And yes, I am significantly less fun at parties than I used to be.

But before my nerdiness drives you away, consider the importance of my undertaking. A revenue neutral tax plan — one that generates the same amount of tax revenue over the next decade — is the carrot the GOP is chasing. Why? As we’ve discussed in this space before, a tax reform plan — one that cuts rates, simplifies the law, and yes, as mentioned in the previous sentence, results in no net loss of tax dollars — can be passed through what’s called the “budget reconciliation process.”

Under this process, should the House and Senate ever get around to approving budgets that provide for a tax reform plan, that plan could be passed with only a simple 51 majority in the Senate. And because Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the Senate, it means that the GOP could pass its vision of tax reform without a single vote from a Democrat.

The catch, however, is that in order to use the reconciliation process, any bill cannot add to the deficit beyond the ten-year budget window, hence the need for revenue neutral tax reform.

How hard can that be?

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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After enduring the healthcare debacle, Charlottesville nightmare, and a seemingly endless string of natural disasters, the White House is desperate for some good PR, and revamping the nation’s tax law is where it aims to find it.

Over the past year, many promises have been made and modified, proposals floated and abandoned, and timelines established and extended. And while I’d like nothing more than to use this space to get you caught up on the details of where we stand today — projected tax rates, a review of what deductions will be eliminated or survive, etc… — the reality is, those details simply don’t exist. In fact, we know far less today about what tax reform might look like than we did seven or eight months ago.

So instead, I’d like to take a look at the big picture: what are the five biggest questions that must be answered before the GOP can fulfill one of its biggest promises to the American public: a more simple, more fair tax system that leaves additional cash in the hands of businesses and families? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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