President Trump’s Tax Reform

Posted November 20, 2016

With the election of President Donald Trump much has, and is, being written about his future policies. One of the more interesting things to watch out for is a tax reform proposal sometime in early 2017.  Along the campaign trail, candidate Trump proposed simplifying our taxes down to three ordinary income tax brackets: 12% (up to $75,000 for joint filers), 25% ($75,000 to $225,000) and 33% (above $225,000).  The wish list includes a doubling of the standard deduction, with itemized deductions capped at $100,000 for single filers; $200,000 for joint filers.  Capital gains taxes would be capped at 20%, federal estate and gift taxes would be eliminated and the step-up in basis would be eliminated for estates over $10 million.

However, one should remember that these proposals were made before anyone imagined that Americans would elect an undivided government, with the Presidency, the House and Senate all under the control of one party.  The next four years—indeed, the first 100 days of the new Presidency—represent an opportunity for the Republican party to do something much more ambitious than simply tinker with our nation’s tax rules.  Influential Republican leaders—including House Speaker Paul Ryan—have reportedly been planning for some years to rewrite our nation’s tax code.

What, exactly, would tax reform look like?  At this point, we simply don’t know.  The goal would be tax simplification, but the bet here is that whatever form this takes will add thousands of pages to the current law as nothing is ever simple in Washington DC, no matter who is in charge.

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