United States Senator for California Kamala Harris speaks at the “Families Belong Together: Freedom for Immigrants” March on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
In 2017, the GOP passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This law lowered taxes and changed tax brackets so that if you earned more than $4.57/hour you got a tax cut.
As was to be expected in a nation that is mathematically challenged and which suffers from a statistical anomaly that causes over half the people to seemingly be demonstrable idiots, there were complaints about low income tax refunds.
Former mistress of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, burner of blunts, and Democrat presidential hopeful, California Senator Kamala Harris jumped into the fray with a rather exotic, even for a California Democrat, economic hot take:
The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 11, 2019
Wait. You’re paying less in taxes. You’re keeping more of your money each paycheck. And you are sniveling because your income tax refund is smaller. What did you expect?
The Washington Post’s intrepid fact checker Glenn “True but False” Kessler took her to task.
Let’s go back to Harris’s tweet: She goes from noting the lower tax refund to declaring: “Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”
As we have explained before, any broad-based tax cut is going to mostly benefit the wealthy because they already pay a large share of income taxes. According to Treasury Department data, the top 20 percent of income earners paid 95.2 percent of individual income taxes in 2017. The top 10 percent paid 81 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.1 percent of taxes.
Because there are far more people in the middle class, there are fewer dollars to share per taxpayer when the savings from a tax cut are divvied up. The nonpartisan Joint Committee of Taxation estimates that 572,000 taxpayers will file returns with an income category of more than $1 million, compared with more than 27 million in the $50,000 to $75,000 category and almost 70 million in the under-$50,000 category.
If the wealthy end up with more money because they pay more in taxes, that’s not necessarily a fair way to look at tax legislation.
When both the Joint Tax Committee and the Tax Policy Center looked at the impact of the tax bill, they concluded that in 2018, most people would see an overall reduction in taxes. The Tax Policy Center found that 80.4 percent of all tax payers would have a tax cut, compared with about 5 percent experiencing a tax increase.
In the middle quintile, 91 percent would get a tax cut, averaging about $1,090, with 7.3 percent facing a tax increase averaging about $910.
Kessler goes on to award her Four Pinocchios:
This tweet combines two factoids into a highly misleading package. Yes, tax refunds are smaller, based on preliminary data. And, yes, in the long run, the Trump tax cut raises taxes on the middle class — if you make the probably unrealistic assumption that Congress will not act to rescue tax cuts for individuals.
But Harris presented these facts without nuance or qualification, making it appear as though the smaller tax refunds were evidence of a tax hike on the middle class. In reality, the size of a tax refund reflects nothing about the size of a tax cut or tax increase — and at least in 2018, the vast majority of middle-class Americans can expect to pay less in taxes as a result of the Trump tax law.
Harris earns Four Pinocchios
And, of course, if your favorite fetish is floating Uncle Sugar an interest-free loan for a year…which is exactly what an income tax refund is…you can always change your W-4. For my part, my ideal is owing just under the amount of tax that triggers a penalty because that means I got the no-interest loan from the government.
There are three notable things about this incident. First, Harris was actually dumb enough to send that tweet. Second, Kessler actually bothered to check it beyond shouting OrangeManBad and giving her a True rating. Third, someone powerful in the Democrat party is trying to take Harris out. Yesterday, someone actually got the media to fact check one of Harris’s stories and found it to be bogus. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to prominent Democrats in the Washington Post every day. And the fact that Kessler even took the extra step of giving her zero benefit of the doubt on the extension of the tax cuts indicates this was intended to do damage. Taken with the dope smoking story you start to see Harris framed as a liar…not that that would have taken a lot of work.
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