Early Saturday morning, the Senate voted 51-49 to pass a hotly debated tax reform package. Much like President Trump’s proposed travel ban, transgender military ban and ongoing efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the optics of this piece of legislature don’t look particularly good for marginalized groups.
There’s the matter of the bill itself. Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester tweeted a video of the bill, which contains handwritten modifications in the margins.
That means government officials who couldn’t meet the standards of a freshman English term paper likely decided your tax obligations for years to come. Multiple senators reported receiving the bill—which was roughly the size of an encyclopedia—less than an hour before the scheduled vote.
“UPDATE: Republicans rejected our motion to adjourn until Monday so senators could read the bill they just introduced,” California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted at 10:52 pm PST. If the timestamp of her tweet holds up, that means most senators received the bill at around 2:00 a.m. while assembling in Washington D.C.
Partisan politics aside, how does the proposed tax bill (which still isn’t technically law until the differences between the House and Senate versions are reconciled) impact you?
Well, if you own a corporation and pay corporate taxes, your tax rate was reduced substantially—from 35% to 20%.
If you fall under the clichéd “Joe the Plumber” group Republicans love to court during election cycles, there are mixed results. A report by the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates a new change to inflation adjustments will slightly raise taxes for most individuals. The Joint Committee expects this to be slightly offset by broad cuts at all individual taxpayer levels. However those cuts are set to expire in 2025.
Tax brackets thresholds have also been modified. A single person earning less than $38,700 would pay a tax rate of 12% under the new plan, as opposed to 15% under the current one. As expected, those making $500,000 and above see a tax rate decrease of 4.6% while also eliminating the “death tax” and the alternative minimum tax.
However the bill does away with some of the tax exemptions that many people rely on. For example the bill scraps an exemption for people who bike to work, and the ability for individuals to deduct losses from, “fire, storm, shipwreck, or other casualty, or from theft.”
The tag #TaxScamBill started trending Saturday morning on Twitter, as those who oppose the legislation began criticizing the likelihood that it will benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else.
Several celebrities, some of whom would financially benefit the most from the new measures, weren't exactly thrilled to see the bill pass.
To no one's surprise, the president had some boastful words to share on Twitter following the bill's passing.
If you’d like to avoid some unpleasant surprises in April, you can read a free report by the Joint Committee on Taxation about the effects of last night’s bill. Spoiler alert: according to the report this bill will grow the economy by .8 percent over ten years while adding $1 trillion to the deficit.