Today was the day. At long last, the first domino that may eventually leave to a thorough overhaul of our tax law was toppled by the House of Representatives with the release of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

For members of the tax-paying public, it can be tough to make sense of it all. When searching for someone to explain the potential changes in terms anyone can understand, options are scarce. Of course, you could simply wait around for the White House’s afternoon presser and listen to Sarah Huckabee Sanders correlate the corporate tax cuts with the exploits of “a man from Nantucket.”

Or, you could just keep reading here. Because what follows is a 30,000 foot view of the new bill, and I say that not because it’s a brief and top-level summary, but rather because I’m actually typing on a plane from Aspen to NYC.

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

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.

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

Early this morning, Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump’s campaign, was told to surrender to the FBI on a slew of charges, including:

1. Conspiracy against the United States
2. Conspiracy to Launder Money (Including Tax Evasion and Tax Fraud)
3. Failure to File Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts
4. Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal
5. False Statements

The indictment is the first handed down pursuant to an investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. Also charged was Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business associate.

In order to gain a full understanding of the charges — particularly the tax violations alleged in numbers 2 and 3 — we must first recap the activities the government maintains Manafort engaged in from 2006 through 2014.

The Alleged Scheme

Beginning in 2006, Manafort worked as an unregistered agent in the Ukraine, acting as a political consultant, lobbyist and public relations professional for factions within the Ukraine government. Specifically, the claim alleges, Manafort worked to advance the political futures of members of the Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions.

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

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.

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

On September 27, President Trump and the “Big 6” Republican tax leaders laid out their plan for tax reform. Withum partner and nationally known Forbes columnist Tony Nitti conducted a complimentary one-hour long webinar separating fact from fiction helping listeners understand the proposal and what is slated to change.

If you did not have the opportunity to tune in, you can listen to the podcast by clicking the play button below:

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

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.

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

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.

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