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House Republicans released a bill on Thursday that would make major changes to the tax code. Some key elements of the proposal:
The bill would reduce the current marginal income tax brackets to four from seven — 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent — and lower taxes by increasing the income ranges affected by each rate.
The top rate would be the same as it is now, except the income level at which it would apply would increase to $1 million for married couples from $480,050 under the current law.
While the lowest income rate would increase, typical families in the existing 10 percent bracket would most likely be better off because of a larger child tax credit and an increase in the standard deduction. The full effects of the plan on different groups has not yet been analyzed by experts.
The bill would repeal the individual Alternative Minimum Tax — which primarily affects households with incomes from $200,000 to $1 million — and would maintain preferential rates for investment income. It would also repeal the estate tax after six years, in the meantime doubling the amount of inherited wealth that is exempt from the tax to $11 million from $5.5 million.
The plan would nearly double the amount of the standard deduction and eliminate the personal exemption, a deduction based on the number of taxpayers and the dependents claimed on a return.
The new, single deduction would be higher for many filers, except those who claim multiple children. An increase in the child tax credit to $1,600 from $1,000 and a new $300 credit for each parent and nonchild dependent could make up the difference.
|Filing status||Current deduction||Current deduction & exemptions||Deduction under G.O.P. bill|
|Single, no children||$6,350||$10,400||$12,000|
|Married, no children||$12,700||$20,800||$24,000|
|Married, two children||$12,700||$28,900||$24,000|
Filers can choose the standard deduction or itemized deductions, but not both. Most filers — 70 percent — currently choose the standard deduction because it is higher than what they qualify for in itemized deductions.
According to an analysis of an earlier House Republican tax plan by the Tax Policy Center, 84 percent of filers who currently itemize their deductions would take the standard deduction if it were doubled.
To help pay for the increase, the plan would eliminate other deductions, with the exception of deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local property taxes. The mortgage interest deduction would be capped for newly purchased homes up to $500,000, and the property tax deduction would be capped at $10,000.
The biggest deduction that would be eliminated is the one for state and local taxes. That deduction primarily helps people in blue states where taxes are higher.
Republicans made a last-minute change to the bill that would retain some of the property tax portion of the deduction, but many upper-middle class taxpayers in these places could still end up paying more under the bill.
But the political divide is not so straight-forward. A Tax Policy Center analysis in September found that of the 20 congressional districts with the highest percentage of returns claiming the deduction in 2014, eight had Republican representatives.
The plan would create a new 25 percent tax rate for “pass-through” businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations that currently pay taxes at the individual rate of their owners. Pass-throughs now make up about 95 percent of businesses in the country and the bulk of corporate tax revenue for the government.
Most pass-throughs are small sole proprietorships currently paying less than a 25 percent marginal rate. But a few are quite large — 1.7 percent of pass-through businesses generate more than 40 percent of all pass-through income and are taxed at the top 39.6 percent rate.
The bill includes a rule to help prevent wealthy individuals from incorporating as pass-through companies to pay a lower tax rate on their income. As a result, certain personal service businesses like law, accounting and consulting would not be eligible for the rate.
The plan would lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and eliminate most business deductions and credits, with the exception of those for research and development and low-income housing. Cutting this tax rate is the most expensive change in the bill.
A recent analysis by the Tax Foundation found that eliminating these corporate tax expenditures that do not change the structure of the tax code would only pay to lower the rate to 28.5 percent from 35 percent, far short of the 20 percent rate called for in the bill. Because the bill calls for retaining some expenditures, even more savings will have to be found elsewhere to pay for the corporate tax cut.
The plan also makes several other major changes to the corporate tax code, including allowing temporary immediate expensing of assets, scaling back deductibility for corporate interest expenses, moving to a territorial system and implementing a one-time repatriation tax on profits overseas.