Well, we now have the House tax "reform" plan, as codified in H.R. 1 -- named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as if sticking the words "and jobs" in a bill's title automatically makes it better! -- and it would do a lot of damage: it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, enact a one-time tax amnesty so corporations could repatriate "foreign" profits at a piddling 12% rate, and create a "territorial" system in which our government wouldn't tax future foreign corporate profits at all, ever, which certainly won't discourage corporations from pretending their domestic profits were made "overseas." H.R. 1 would also cut and then repeal the Estate tax (which fewer than one percent of Americans will ever pay) and repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (and just a few years after Max Baucus finally realized his lifelong dream of fixing it!). Oh, and that "carried interest" loophole President Trump has said he wants to get rid of? H.R. 1 doesn't get rid of it; hedge fund managers will still pay a lower percentage on their millions and billions than you or I ever will.
Of course, to pay for all of that lost tax revenue -- or, rather, to pay for much of it, since the Republicans have allowed themselves the luxury of allowing this tax cut bill to create upwards of $1.3 trillion in new deficits over the next decade -- of course they're going after tax breaks that working families get. Gone would be the personal deduction, as well as deductions for dependents. Gone would be deductions working families rely on, like the ability to deduct onerous medical expenses or student loan debt interest. Gone would be the exemption good Americans get for paying state and local taxes -- except for property owners, of course, and they'd only get to exempt $10,000. And dig this: Republicans think slashing state and local tax deductions will force municipalities to lower property taxes. Sounds great, doesn't it? Until you remember that property taxes pay for public schools, which means cuts in school funding will also fund tax cuts for the rich. That'll go along with all the Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security cuts Republicans will push once they've exploded deficits and their outlandish predictions of GDP growth don't materialize.
And it's really one-hand-giveth-the-other-taketh-away with H.R. 1 -- it would expand the standard deduction, but the repeal of the personal deduction pretty much makes that a wash, and though it would expand the Child Tax Credit, that expansion would expire after five years, for whatever reason. Halving the value of homes eligible for the mortgage interest deduction might curb the worst excesses of slumlords and corporations, but it might also trip up middle-class homeowners once inflation catches up. And the worst rug-pulling act is the one for which House Republicans no doubt want the most credit: they largely left the top tax bracket alone, at 39.6%. But not only does that pale before all the other damage H.R. 1 would do, it's a trap. As Alan Essig at Fortune reminds us, H.R. 1 leaves the top rates for capital gains and dividends at 23.8% and "pass-through" businesses at 25% -- millionaires and billionaires more likely make money as capital gains and dividends than as, you know, salary, and rumor has it that the "pass-through" business is one of our President's favorite tax-avoidance tools. You could even see a resurgence of millionaires incorporating themselves, now that the top corporate tax rate would be a little more than half the top income tax rate.
So what would a good tax reform plan look like? It would impose a 91% tax on millionaire income, start treating capital gains and investment income as "income" and not as separate categories with lower tax rates, hike the corporate tax rate from 35% to 50%, close the corporate tax loopholes that let corporations pretend they made some of their domestic profits "overseas," clamp down on corporate efforts to reincorporate themselves as "foreign" corporations, repeal all the corporate "research and development" tax credits which amount to nothing more than corporate welfare, and prevent people and corporations from using the mortgage interest deduction on more than four properties in a five-year period. Basically, if we had that framework, the work of serving the people would become a lot easier. And it'd be exactly the kind of bill you could stick the words "and jobs" on -- corporations don't create jobs, but not because "their taxes are too high" -- they don't create jobs because they don't want to and they don't have to. Raise their taxes, close their loopholes, and make it impossible for them to overpay their executives or sink money into endless properties, and they'll have to look for ways to spend money, for once -- and the best way to spend money is to hire workers to make stuff that people will buy.
So you can use the tools in the upper right-hand corner of this page (or the bottom of this page, if you're currently viewing it on a smartphone) to get your Reps' phone numbers and tell them to reject H.R. 1, for all the reasons listed above. If you want to submit what you'd think would be a better tax reform plan, well, you can do that, too -- I mean, they're supposed to do more listening and less judging, you know? And your Congressfolk all think you're not as important as the big donors who are also in their ears, so call them up and remind them that you're more important than any special interest, because you're an American. Good luck and God bless.