Everything You Need to Know About the GOP Tax Bill

Here are key changes to U.S. tax law for individuals and businesses that have emerged from the final Republican bill that’s headed for votes in the House and Senate next week.

Individual Tax Rates

(Note: Individual rate cuts would expire after 2025.)

Current law:

  • Seven rates, starting at 10 percent and reaching 39.6 percent for incomes above $418,401 for singles and $470,701 for married, joint filers.

Proposed: 

  • Seven rates, starting at 10 percent and reaching 37 percent for incomes above $500,000 for singles and $600,000 for married, joint filers.
    For joint filers:
    • 10 percent: $0 to $19,050
    • 12 percent: $19,050 to $77,400
    • 22 percent: $77,400 to $165,000
    • 24 percent: $165,000 to $315,000
    • 32 percent: $315,000 to $400,000
    • 35 percent: $400,000 to $600,000
    • 37 percent: $600,000 and above

    For single filers:

    • 10 percent: $0 to $9,525
    • 12 percent: $9,525 to $38,700
    • 22 percent: $38,700 to $82,500
    • 24 percent: $82,500 to $157,500
    • 32 percent: $157,500 to $200,000
    • 35 percent: $200,000 to $500,000
    • 37 percent: $500,000 and above

Corporate Tax Rate

Current law: 35 percent

Proposed: 21 percent, beginning in 2018.

Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax

Current law: Applies a 20 percent rate as part of a parallel tax system that limits tax benefits to prevent large-scale tax avoidance. Companies must calculate their ordinary tax and AMT tax, and pay whichever is higher.

Proposed: Repealed.

Individual Alternative Minimum Tax

Current law: Individual AMT can apply after exemption level of $54,300 for singles and $84,500 for married, joint filers, and the exemptions phase out at higher incomes.

Proposed: Increase the exemption to $70,300 for singles and $109,400 for joint filers. Increase the phase-out threshold to $500,000 for singles and $1 million for joint filers. The higher limits would expire on Jan. 1, 2026.

Expensing Equipment

Current law: Businesses must take depreciation, spreading the recognition of their equipment costs for tax purposes over several years.

Proposed: Businesses could fully and immediately deduct the cost of certain equipment purchased after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2023. After that, the percentage of cost that could be immediately deducted would gradually phase down.

Repatriation

Current law: The U.S. taxes multinationals on their global earnings at the corporate rate of 35 percent, but allows them to defer taxes on those foreign earnings until they bring them back to the U.S., or “repatriate” them.

Proposed: U.S. companies’ overseas income held as cash would be subject to a 15.5 percent rate, while non-cash holdings would face an 8 percent rate.

Pass-Through Deduction

Current law: Pass-through businesses, which include partnerships, limited liability companies, S corporations and sole proprietorships, pass their income to their owners, who pay tax at their individual rates.

Proposed: Owners could apply a 20 percent deduction to their business income, subject to limits that would begin at $315,000 for married couples (or half that for single taxpayers).

Obamacare Individual Mandate

Current law: An individual who fails to buy health insurance must pay penalties of $695 (higher for families) or 2.5 percent of their household income — whichever is higher, but capped at the national average cost of the most basic, low-premium, high-deductible plan.

Proposed: Repeal the penalties.

Standard Deduction and Personal Exemptions

Current law: $6,350 standard deduction for single taxpayers and $12,700 for married couples, filing jointly. Personal exemptions of $4,050 allowed for each family member.

Proposed: $12,000 standard deduction for single taxpayers and $24,000 for married couples, filing jointly. Personal exemptions repealed.

Individual State and Local Tax Deductions

Current law: Individuals can deduct the state and local taxes they pay, but the value is subject to certain limits for high earners.

Proposed: Individuals can deduct no more than $10,000 worth of the deductions, which could include a combination of property taxes and either sales or income taxes.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Current law: Deductible mortgage interest is capped at loans of $1 million.

Proposed: Deductible mortgage interest for new purchases of first or second homes would be capped at loans of $750,000 starting on Jan. 1, 2018.

Medical Expense Deduction

Current law: Qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income are deductible.

Proposed: Reduce the threshold to 7.5 percent of AGI for 2017 and 2018.

Child Tax Credit

Current law: A $1,000 credit for each child under 17. The credit begins phasing out for couples earning more than $110,000. The credit is at least partially refundable to qualified taxpayers who earned more than $3,000.

Proposed: Double the credit to $2,000 and provide it for each child under 18 through 2024. Raise the phase-out amount to $500,000, and cap the refundable portion at $1,400 in 2018.

Estate Tax

Current law: Applies a 40 percent levy on estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals and $10.98 million for couples.

Proposed: Double the thresholds so the levy applies to fewer estates. The higher thresholds would sunset in 2026.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-gop-tax-overhaul-bill

    Senate Passes Tax-Cut Bill in Milestone Move Toward Overhaul

    Senate Republicans narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.

    The 51-49 vote — achieved just before 2 a.m. Saturday in Washington and only after closed-door deal-making with dissident senators — brings the GOP close to delivering a much-needed policy win for their party and President Donald Trump. 

    After the vote, Trump said on Twitter that he looks forward to signing a final bill before Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that a pre-Christmas tax cut would be a “Middle-Class Miracle!”

    Before it goes to Trump, lawmakers will have to resolve differences between the Senate bill and one the House passed last month, a process that could begin Monday. Although both versions share common top-line elements, negotiations on individual provisions inserted to win votes, particularly in the Senate, may be protracted and difficult. The final product will end up being a central issue in the 2018 elections that will determine control of Congress.

    “We’re going to take this message to the American people a year from now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote.

    Speaking in New York on Saturday, Trump also predicted the tax package would be a winner for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. “We got no Democrat help and I think that’s going to hurt them in the election,” Trump said at a fundraising event.

    Read about the sticking points between Senate, House bills.

    Both the House and Senate measures would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent — though the Senate version would set that lower rate in 2019, a year later than the House bill would. Also, the Senate bill, unlike the House version, would provide only temporary tax relief to individuals, ending tax cuts for them in 2026. Both bills are expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, before accounting for any economic growth.

    Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had cited concerns over the bill’s effects on federal deficits, was the only Republican dissenter. McConnell rejected revenue scores that suggested the bill’s tax cuts would add to the deficit. He predicted it would be a “revenue producer” by stimulating economic growth. Congress’s official tax scorekeeper this week said otherwise.

    The House and Senate bills also align on the contentious issue of individual deductions for state and local taxes: They’d eliminate all but a deduction for property taxes, which would be capped at $10,000.

    Mortgage Interest

    But they differ on the home mortgage-interest deduction; the House bill would restrict that break to loans of $500,000 or less with regard to new purchases of homes. The Senate legislation would leave the current $1 million cap in place.

    They also differ — narrowly — on the tax rates they’d apply to multinational companies’ accumulated offshore earnings. The House bill would tax those profits at 14 percent for earnings held as cash and 7 percent for less-liquid assets. The revised Senate bill contains a lengthy section that has no direct mention of the rates, but a person familiar with the Senate plan said they’d be 14.5 percent for cash and 7.5 percent for less-liquid assets.

    Senate Republican leaders muscled the sweeping legislation through the chamber less than two weeks after releasing the bill draft. Many GOP lawmakers, including Corker and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have expressed concerns that the party has little to show so far before next year’s congressional elections, after the collapse of an Obamacare repeal earlier this year and no action on issues ranging from immigration to infrastructure.

    ‘Working Families’

    Trump expressed gratitude to McConnell and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch for steering the measure through the Senate.

    “We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

    Republicans were able to bring the legislation to a vote using Senate rules that allowed them to approve it with a simple majority, therefore without any Democratic support. The GOP controls just 52 votes in the chamber, eight shy of what’s typically needed to move controversial measures that draw delaying tactics by opponents.

    Narrow Majority

    That narrow majority made it important for Senate leaders to try to hold every member’s vote; moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine used that leverage to secure various concessions, including an agreement to enhance an individual deduction for large unreimbursed medical expenses through the end of next year. The House bill would eliminate that tax break.

    Democrats decried the bill’s deficit impact and complained they were shut out of the process to help draft the measure. They cited research showing that the legislation primarily benefits the nation’s highest earners and business owners, and will bleed federal revenues in a way that hurts domestic programs.

    “At a time of immense inequality, the Republican tax bill makes life easier on the well-off and eventually makes life more difficult on working Americans, exacerbating one of the most pressing problems we face as a nation — the yawning gap between the rich and everyone else,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York during debate on the bill.

    ‘Back of a Napkin’

    Schumer noted that a set of last-minute revisions to the bill changed it in ways that had yet to be analyzed by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for the effects of tax legislation. “Is this really how Republicans are going to rewrite the tax code? Scrawled like something on the back of a napkin?”

    McConnell said the bill, the first text of which was introduced on Nov. 20, went “through the regular order.” He dismissed complaints like Schumer’s. “You complain about process when you’re losing,” McConnell said.

    Attention now shifts to a House-Senate conference committee — a specially appointed, temporary panel that will be charged with hashing out the differences in the bills and preparing a final version for both chambers to consider. Party leaders will select a small group of lawmakers, likely from the House and Senate tax-writing panels in each chamber, who would then be approved by each chamber.

    That work could start as early as Monday, with many high-stakes issues to be worked through. The deadline of Dec. 31 is an artificial one, though — aimed partly at securing a victory well in advance of the 2018 congressional elections. Republicans would have until the end of 2018 before they lose their ability to clear final passage in the Senate without a filibuster.

    Expensing Provision

    Both bills share some key central elements: They both almost double the standard deduction for individual taxpayers while eliminating personal exemptions. They both allow companies to fully and immediately deduct the cost of their spending on equipment for five years. But the Senate version would slowly step down the expensing provision after the five-year period — a feature that the House bill doesn’t provide for.

    Yet there are many differences — ranging from the taxation of business income to the amount set for the child tax credit — and Senate negotiators may have the upper hand during talks. That’s because the wafer-thin two-vote majority in the Senate will make it harder to usher a final bill back through that chamber.

    The House bill would consolidate the current seven individual tax brackets to four, leaving the top tax rate at 39.6 percent. The Senate bill would have seven brackets — with lower rates, and a top rate of 38.5 percent. Studies have shown that many of the tax bill’s benefits would go to the highest earners — and some middle-class taxpayers might actually pay more — a finding that could impact the House-Senate talks.

    The Senate bill includes a repeal of Obamacare’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. The House bill does not.

    Pass-Through Businesses

    Senators approved a 23 percent tax deduction — subject to certain limitations — on business income earned from partnerships, limited liabilities and other so-called pass-through businesses. The House version would create a 25 percent tax rate for such business income — with restrictions on which businesses could qualify. Small businesses would get extra relief under the House legislation as well.

    The House bill would also eliminate the estate tax, while the Senate version would limit the tax to fewer multimillion-dollar estates, but leave it in place. And after 2025, the limits would lift.

    Under current law, the estate tax applies a 40 percent levy to estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals and $10.98 million for married couples. The Senate bill would temporarily double the exemption thresholds. The House bill would double the exemption thresholds, and then repeal the tax entirely in 2025.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-02/senate-passes-tax-cut-bill-in-milestone-move-toward-overhaul

      The GOP Tax Plan Is Entering Its Make-or-Break Week

      The $1.4 trillion item on President Donald Trump’s wish list — a package of tax cuts for businesses and individuals that he has said he wants to sign before year’s end — is headed into the legislative equivalent of a Black Friday scrum next week.

      Senate Republican leaders plan a make-or-break floor vote on their bill as soon as Thursday — a dramatic moment that will come only after a marathon debate that could go all night. Democrats are expected to try to delay or derail the measure, and the GOP must hold together at least 50 votes from its thin, 52-vote majority in order to prevail.

      Their chances improved this week when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she’ll support repealing the “individual mandate” imposed by Obamacare — a provision that Senate tax writers are counting on to help finance the tax cuts. Murkowski had earlier signaled some reservations about the provision; and her support was widely viewed as a positive sign for the tax bill’s chances.

      Trump is scheduled to address Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon Tuesday afternoon on taxes and the legislative agenda for the rest of the year, according to a statement from Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. 

      The White House previously announced that the president would talk with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House the same day about an agreement on spending to keep the government open after funding expires on Dec. 8. David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, both said that meeting is still on the schedule.

      If the tax bill clears the Senate — a step that’s by no means guaranteed — lawmakers in both chambers would have to hammer out a compromise between their differing bills, a process that presents potential pitfalls of its own. For now, though, much of the Senate’s attention will focus on its legislation’s price tag.

      Three GOP senators — Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and James Lankford of Oklahoma — have cited concerns about how the measure would affect federal deficits. Independent studies of the legislation have found that — contrary to its backers’ arguments — its tax cuts won’t stimulate enough growth to pay for themselves. Both the Senate bill, and one that cleared the House earlier this month, would reduce federal revenue over a decade by roughly $1.4 trillion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

      On Wednesday, a report from the Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania said the bill would reduce federal revenue in each year from 2028 to 2033. That finding would mean it doesn’t comply with a key budget rule that Senate Republican leaders want to use to pass their bill with a simple majority over Democrats’ objections.

      Budget Rule

      In essence, that rule holds that any bill approved via that fast-track process can’t add to the deficit outside a 10-year budget window. The JCT has already found that the Senate bill would generate a surplus in its 10th year because it has set several tax breaks for businesses and individuals to expire.

      But JCT hasn’t yet weighed in publicly on the revenue effects in subsequent years. Senate GOP leaders have expressed confidence that their proposal will satisfy the rule ultimately.

      Another potential stumbling block stems from the fact that Congress is trying to act on complex tax legislation under a tight, self-imposed timeline in order to deliver on promises from Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and McConnell.

      For example, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has said he can’t support the current Senate bill because it would give corporations a tax advantage — a large rate cut to 20 percent from 35 percent — that other, closely held businesses wouldn’t get.

      ‘Change the Most’

      His concern centers on the Senate’s plan for large partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and other so-called “pass-through” businesses. Under current law, these businesses simply pass their earnings to their owners, who pay income taxes at their individual rates — currently, as high as 39.6 percent, depending on how much they earn.

      Read more: A QuickTake guide to the tax-cut debate

      The Senate bill would provide pass-through owners with a 17.4 percent deduction for income — but in combination with other provisions, that would result in an effective top tax rate for business income that’s more than 10 percentage points higher than the proposed corporate tax rate.

      The House bill would use an entirely different approach, setting a top tax rate of 25 percent for pass-through business income, but then limiting how much of a business’s earnings could qualify for that rate.

      Reconciling those differences — and addressing Johnson’s concern — may be a complicated process. “That’s part of the equation that could change the most over the next few weeks,” Isaac Boltansky, senior vice president and policy analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading LLC, told Bloomberg Tax. “No one is planning around it yet. There is uncertainty across the board.”

      Meanwhile, the Obamacare issue looms in the background — threatening at least one GOP senator’s vote. Susan Collins of Maine said earlier this week that tax bill “needs work,” and “I think there will be changes.”

      The 2010 Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — contained a provision requiring individuals to buy health insurance or pay a federal penalty. Removing that penalty in 2019, as the Senate tax bill proposes to do, would generate an estimated $318 billion in savings by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The savings would stem from about 13 million Americans dropping their coverage, eliminating the need for federal subsidies to help them afford it.

      Because many of the newly uninsured would be younger, healthier people, insurance premiums would rise 10 percent in most years, the nonpartisan fiscal scorekeeper found.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-24/trump-s-1-4-trillion-tax-cut-is-entering-its-make-or-break-week

        Key GOP Senator Susan Collins Lays Out Her Demands for Tax Bill

        Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Monday she’s opposed to two tax breaks for the wealthy that her party leaders are pushing for, indicating that her vote won’t be easy to win on President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

        “I do not believe that the top rate should be lowered for individuals who are making more than $1 million a year,” Collins said during an interview with Bloomberg News. “I don’t think there’s any need to eliminate the estate tax.”

        Repealing the estate tax and cutting the individual rate from 39.6 percent for top earners “concern me,” she said, adding that she’s conveyed her opposition to party leaders.

        Collins, a moderate Republican who played a decisive role in thwarting several iterations of Obamacare replacement legislation, offered her most pointed comments on her priorities for a tax bill to date.

        She added that the structure of the estate tax — a 40 percent levy applied to estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals or $10.98 million for couples — means it avoids hitting “the vast majority of family-owned businesses and farms and ranches.” She said she’s open to adjusting the cutoff level slightly upward.

        The White House and GOP leaders released a tax framework last month that calls for a top individual rate of 35 percent and leaves room for tax committees to add another rate above that. It also proposes the repeal of the estate tax. The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to release its version of a tax bill on Wednesday. Collins said the Senate will likely offer a tax bill that differs from the House version.

        Collins’s demands are important because Republicans have only 52 seats in the 100-member Senate and little hope of Democratic support — they can’t afford to lose more than two members to get a bill passed. 

        Still, she said: “There is far more outreach on the tax bill” than there was on health care.

        Collins declined to say she’ll oppose a tax bill that adds to the deficit, in contrast to her colleague Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. But she said she cares about the debt and doesn’t want the tax bill to “blow a hole” in the deficit. She argued that “certain tax cuts done right will increase economic growth” and produce revenue.

        “I hope very much to be able to support a tax reform package," Collins said. "It’s very difficult — I’m not going to say I can guarantee that because I don’t know what’s going to be in it.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-30/key-gop-senator-susan-collins-lays-out-her-demands-for-tax-bill