Recent history also suggests that companies would do more to improve shareholder returns than to invest in their businesses or expand and enrich their workforces. Back in 2004, Congress let companies repatriate their earnings, much as Congress is planning to do now. “While empirical evidence is clear that this provision resulted in a significant increase in repatriated earnings, empirical evidence is unable to show a corresponding increase in domestic investment or employment,” a Congressional Research Service report found.
Economists think the same thing would happen this time around. Companies are already highly profitable and borrowing costs are already low, after all: Businesses do not really need the government to induce them to invest. Moreover, though the United States has high statutory corporate tax rates, few companies pay high effective tax rates. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has found that 258 big corporations paid an average effective tax rate of 21.2 percent in recent years, with 18 companies—among them General Electric and Priceline.com—never paying federal income taxes during the time period studied.
5. The rich are not going to benefit from the bill.
Trump has repeatedly promised that rich families like his do not stand to benefit from the Republican legislation. “We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know,” he said this week. “I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m president. I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care. Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree?”
This is false: As a general point, the richer the family, the more they benefit from the legislation, particularly over time. The Tax Policy Center has found that the biggest benefits would go to families in the top 5 percent as of 2019, with the smallest benefits going to those in the lowest income quartile. By 2027, families in the lowest two income quartiles would be receiving, on average, no benefit at all, with the biggest gains accruing to families in the top 0.1 percent of the income distribution. Moreover, the richest-of-the-rich families would exclusively benefit from initiatives like the reduction in or an elimination of the estate tax, which would let individuals like Trump pass millions and millions of dollars more to their heirs.
5, cont. Trump himself would not benefit.
“This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing—believe me,” Trump said this week. “Believe me, this is not good for me. Me, it’s not—so‚ I have some very wealthy friends, not so happy with me, but that’s okay.”
This is not true. In fact, Trump stands to benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars, according to tax analysts, though it is hard to know with much specificity, given that he refuses to release his tax returns and House and Senate Republicans keep tinkering with the legislation. The elimination of the alternative minimum tax. The changes to the estate tax. Abbreviated depreciation schedules. Deductions or special rates for pass-through businesses. All these provisions stand to benefit Trump directly. Indeed, tax experts have said that as a real-estate developer he seems uniquely positioned to benefit from tax reform.