• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Jon Hunstman Unveils A Tax Plan You Ought To Be Paying Attention To

Jon Huntsman is hovering near the bottom of the polls both on a national and a statewide basis, so perhaps that he feels free to put forward one of the most far-reaching tax reform plans we’ve seen in quite some time:

Jon M. Huntsman Jr. again showed himself on Wednesday to be an ideological outlier in the Republican presidential field, calling for the tax code to be stripped of all loopholes and deductions.

Congressional Republicans have resisted closing loopholes in recent budget talks, portraying such moves as tax increases.

“Over the last few decades, our tax code has devolved into a maze of special-interest carve-outs, loopholes and temporary provisions that cost taxpayers more than $400 billion a year to comply with,” Mr. Huntsman said in a speech at a metal plant in Hudson, N.H. “Get rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies, all corporate welfare.”

Mr. Huntsman’s plan, which borrows from both Representative Paul D. Ryan’s proposal and the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission recommendations to reduce the deficit, also calls for sharply lowering both corporate and individual tax rates, as well as ending taxes on capital gains and dividends, positions more in line with Republican orthodoxy.

It calls for simplified income tax rates of 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent, but would eliminate popular tax breaks like the deduction for interest on home mortgages.

The New York Times article on the plan is unfortunately devoid of any real analysis of the plan, which probably wouldn’t be true of a plan put forward by one of the top tier candidates. Fortunately, The Washington Post gives the plan a little more attention, including noticing the fact that Huntsman plan deals with a lot more than just taxes:

Called “Time to Compete,” the speech aimed to catapult Huntsman into the economic debate among the top-tier candidates and give his campaign some much-needed traction.

“There is no more urgent priority at this point in our nation’s history than creating jobs and strengthening our economic core; everything else revolves around it,” he said. “Meeting our challenges will require serious solutions, but above all, it will require serious leadership — a quality in high demand in our nation’s capital and among my opponents on the campaign trail.”

Huntsman’s plan calls for eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends, lowering the business tax rate, and instituting a tax holiday for repatriating corporate profits earned overseas.

Addressing regulations, Huntsman said he would repeal Obama’s health-care plan — all of his Republican rivals have vowed to do the same if elected — as well as the Dodd-Frank bill, which increased oversight of the financial sector.

Huntsman also took aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, which his opponents have also targeted, saying, “We must end the EPA’s serious regulatory overreach.”

Huntsman talked about his plan on the Today show this morning:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

James Pethokoukis concentrates on the tax part of Huntsman’s plan and finds much to be impressed with:

Basically, this is the “zero option” Bowles-Simpson tax plan that lowers marginal tax rates and broadens the tax base. But there is at least one big difference. B-S would use part of the money from axing some $1 trillion in annual tax breaks to lower marginal rates and part for deficit reduction – a net tax hike. Huntsman would divert that extra tax revenue into “paying for” the elimination of investment taxes.

At first glance, this looks like perhaps the most pro-growth, pro-market (and anti-crony capitalist) tax plan put forward by a major U.S. president candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980. But it is not without political risk. In addition to killing tax breaks for businesses, Huntsman would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, healthcare exclusion, and the child tax credit among other “tax expenditures. ” We’re talking about a whole herd of sacred cows. Both his fellow presidential candidates and Washington lobbyists will likely attack him for some of those ideas.

The main reason they might attack him, of course, is that the biggest tax deductions, the ones that would be most likely to increase revenue even if marginal rates are reduced also happen to be the most popular:

Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found in a March analysis that the top tax break is the one on employer-sponsored health care, with a $659 billion price tag between 2010 and 2014. The second is the deduction for home mortgage interest, at $484 billion over the same time period.

Even the most aggressive plans from the flurry of budget commissions over the last decade have stopped short of recommending a full elimination of all tax breaks, said Ted Gayer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. However, the widely popular idea of lowering rates and broadening the base of taxpayers is a “noble goal,” he said.

Mr. Huntsman’s 12-page proposal noted the tax section was modeled after “Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform package,” but not all agreed with that characterization. “The 1986 tax reform did not pay for lower rates by eliminating deductions,” noted Alan Reynolds, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. Some conservatives hoped the audacity of the plan would push the idea of overhauling the tax code past the current partisan impasse over raising revenues.

“It’s certainly not a timid proposal,” said Scott Hodge, president of The Tax Foundation, a tax research group that advocates lower taxes. “In order to move the debate forward on fundamental tax reform, sometimes you have to push the discussion as far as you can.”

The reaction to Huntsman’s plan is interesting. On the left, of course, you’ve got the usual sources like Think Progress and Daily Kos call the plan a tax hike on the poor and elderly. What’s somewhat unusual is the response of National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who essentially says the exact same thing:

The candidate has a new tax plan that is designed to raise as much money as the current system. It lowers tax rates in return for getting rid of the mortgage-interest deduction, the child tax credit, the exclusion of employer-paid health insurance premiums, and many other tax breaks. It’s going to sound very appealing to a lot of conservatives-at least, to those who have any interest in what Huntsman has to say.

But here’s the problem. The tax code, when combined with entitlements as now structured, overtaxes parents, and the child credit only partially offsets that effect. By abolishing the credit-a legacy of the Gingrich Congress and the Bush administration-Huntsman would be taking a step away from neutrality and toward a perverse form of social engineering.

What Ponnuru misses, and what the Think Progress and Daily Kos authors fail to see through their ideological blinders is that Huntsman has tapped into the key problem with the current tax code. Rather than existing to raise revenue in the most efficient manner possible, the Internal Revenue Code has become a means by which politicians curry favor with their supporters and important contributors by inserting exemptions, deductions, and credits into the tax code that reduce the tax burden for some, and increase it for others. Absent a standard deduction designed to ensure that people living at or near poverty aren’t paying a burdensome amount in taxes, there really shouldn’t be any deductions or exceptions to the calculation of tax liability, and no credits against the amount of tax owed. Why should homeowners receive a subsidy for owning a home? Why should parents receive a subsidy for having children? Why should businesses receive a subsidy for  doing things that some interest group somewhere approves of? Looking at each of these questions strictly from the point fo view of raising revenue, there’s no reason whatsoever for any of them to exist.

Eliminating popular tax deductions might not get Huntsman very far in the polls, but that’s unfortunate. This strikes me as the kind of broad-ranging tax reform that we need. Not only would it rationalize the tax code and cut down the the millions of dollars per year that individuals and businesses spend each year to calculate their tax liability, and to manipulate their taxes so as to take advantage of as many deductions as possible. Even though it decreases tax rates, it’s likely to increase revenue, both because of the elimination of deductions, and because of the economic activity that a reinvigorated. rationalized tax code is likely to spur. I’d like to see more analysis of this plan, I’d like to hear the other candidates come out with their own variations on this plan rather than hiding behind the arguments of people like Ponnuru. This is a good idea, or at least a good start.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    I’m generally in favor of reducing or even eliminating (preferably via phase-out in some cases) deductions in the code and rebalancing rates.

    One thing I don’t understand is the fixation people seem to have with having fewer marginal rates. Why? The table that comes with the IRS forms isn’t hard to use.

    Moving on…

    Huntsman’s plan calls for eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends

    This is a non-starter for me. It’s a massive, massive giveaway to the top .01% of the population.

    Indeed: B-S would use part of the money from axing some $1 trillion in annual tax breaks to lower marginal rates and part for deficit reduction – a net tax hike. Huntsman would divert that extra tax revenue into “paying for” the elimination of investment taxes.

    The pundit you quote lauds this as good. I’m flabbergasted. In the end, this is a revenue-neutral proposal that likely makes the tax system more regressive overall, and particularly helps out the tippy tippy top.

    lowering the business tax rate, and instituting a tax holiday for repatriating corporate profits earned overseas.

    I’m open to lowering the corporate tax rate. The tax holiday idea strikes me as gimmicky… it might result in a short-term revenue bump, but what are the long-term effects?

    Addressing regulations, Huntsman said he would repeal Obama’s health-care plan — all of his Republican rivals have vowed to do the same if elected — as well as the Dodd-Frank bill, which increased oversight of the financial sector.

    Huntsman also took aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, which his opponents have also targeted, saying, “We must end the EPA’s serious regulatory overreach.”

    Oh fer chrissakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  2. Andyman says:

    @Doug,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “efficient”. If you mean simple, then I suppose three brackets is better than four, and two is better than three, and yes, let’s eliminate deductions.

    I think most people define “efficient” more like “effective”. And by effective, they mean they want the tax code to collect a lot of money without hurting the economy, as painlessly yet fairly as possible. (And yes, those can be conflicting goals.) So in general we want a system that’s good at identifying low marginal utility dollars, making sure people aren’t hiding their wealth with accounting tricks, spreading the pain around, and discouraging antisocial behavior.

    Here’s where the two definitions agree: let’s get rid of tax loopholes mostly geared towards the upper class, like mortgage interest deductions and the silly distinction between wage income and capital gains. To the extent that those moves will also hurt the middle class, perhaps we could consolidate the middle brackets at the lower rate. Simple and effective.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    Just more supply side/trickle down BS which will further enrich the plutocrats and screw 80% of the population without creating a job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  4. Rob in CT says:

    Look, Doug. Again, I’m generally anti-deduction. I don’t think we should be subsidizing as much as we do via the tax code.

    My approach to tax reform would be more moderate:

    I would phase out the Mortgage Interest deduction over time. One could consider whether a deduction up to $X might make sense (encouraging mortgages, but not encouraging the biggest mortgage you can get)? Also, right now we allow deduction for mortgage interest on second homes. That’s nuts.

    Child Tax Credit: the idea here is to support having a family. Why not have it get increasingly less generous the more kids you have? Diminishing returns.

    Phasing out employer-provided healthcare cost deduction seems right to me. But then I’m a guy who wants healthcare insurance decouped entirely from employment and supports single-payer.

    I’m pro-ending subsidies to various industries (again, phase-out). However, we both know that it will hurt. Jobs will be lost as a result. The hope would be that new jobs would be available to replace those lost. Right now that doesn’t look likely. Business subsidies, at least in some cases, is just protectionism, right? Removing that protection makes it even more likely (some) jobs will go overseas. Where are the new jobs going to come from? New technology, we can hope. But that’s cold comfort in the here and now.

    It’s not mentioned in the quotes you gave above, but if he really means ALL deductions and credits and such, that means the EITC too, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Moosebreath says:

    By noting it is revenue neutral and that it raises taxes on the poor and elderly, it therefore lowers them on the rich. In other words, it is exactly the sort of proposal Republicans have been making for over a generation. And exactly the type of tax reform we don’t need.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  6. Rob in CT says:

    Ron is… more succinct than I am. Hah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. john personna says:

    On the one hand, I’m for it. On the other hand the need for “revenue neutral” drama seems deeply wrong.

    We need tax reform, and we need a little more revenue. To remnd, to make this year’s budget balance on cuts alone, we’d need to cut 40% of spending, immediately.

    (It is standard right-rhetoric, to say “yeah but since I wish I could cut spending by 40%, I don’t have to raise revenue at all.” If you could balance budgets on wishes, you’d be right!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Vast Variety says:

    I like a lot of Huntsman’s plan. But instead of eliminating some of those sacred cows I would put a means test on them. If your gross income is say below 50k then you get the mortgage credit, just as an example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Fargus says:

    I’m sorry, but this simply isn’t a plan to be taken seriously. Let me excerpt the bit on Capital Gains and Dividends:

    Eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends would lower the cost of capital and encourage investment in the American economy to create jobs. Additionally, these taxes amount to a double-taxation on most individuals who choose to invest since they first had to earn that money and pay income tax on it. Taxing these same dollars again when capital gains are realized serves to deter productive and much-needed investment in our economy.

    The bit about double taxation is purest nonsense. Capital gains are earnings above and beyond the amount of the investment. You’ve paid income tax on the money you use to invest, and you pay capital gains taxes on the money you earn on top of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. steve says:

    I agree with a lot of his plan, which is mostly the Bowles-Simpson plan. However, if he wants to cut the EITC and the mortgage deduction at the same time, he needs to have some plan to figure out how those at the bottom will be able to afford to eat. I would get rid of corporate income taxes but keep the capital gains and dividend taxes. It should not be revenue neutral, but should provide extra revenue which would be applied to debt reduction.

    Of note, if you eliminate the health care deduction, many people are likely to lose their insurance. If he repeals the ACA, how do those people get insurance? The individual market is the most expensive and the one least likely to insure someone.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. PD Shaw says:

    @Vast Variety:” If your gross income is say below 50k then you get the mortgage credit, just as an example.”

    Caps might be the political way to go, but if your gross income is below 50k, your probably not itemizing. I like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. WR says:

    Here’s my new Libertarian tax plan: Anyone who makes less than $100,000 a year must give fifty percent of that to the nearest billionaire.

    Doug should really like that one…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  13. Racehorse says:

    @Andyman: Here’s some ideas about a Federal income tax reform: Eliminate all deductions except for charity and dependents. Everyone 18+ who is receiving an income of any kind, including any form of welfare (housing supplements, food stamps, etc) pays 3% income tax. This will greatly bring in more people into the tax base and just about everyone will end up paying less. It will also bring in enough revenue to have a budget surplus in 4 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  14. Craig says:

    The “Yglesias link” is neither. (Click it — doesn’t work, and even if fixed goes to someone else’s article).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. @Craig:

    My error. There’s only one story about this at Think Progress. Fixed

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. john personna says:

    Actually I missed “ending taxes on capital gains and dividends.”

    The problem with that is the behavior it would encourage. No one would want to start a business or be a principal. That would yield them taxable income. It encourages the idle rich – people stick it all in stocks and bonds, collect capital gains and dividends, pay no taxes.

    Setting a medium bound, like you can get dividends and interest up to median income, tax free would encourage broad savings, and make the whole 401K/IRA thing moot. But when you let someone with a $10M net worth just slam it in financial instruments and live tax free for the rest of their lives, that’s really bad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. michael reynolds says:

    I like the idea of eliminating deductions because it essentially gets interest groups out of the business of writing tax code.

    But there exists no evidence that lowering tax rates increases job creation. So why don’t we stop pretending that’s anything other than a self-serving article of faith on the right?

    The revenue-neutral aspect is pandering — he has the balls to call for eliminating the mortgage deduction, but not quite enough to admit we need to raise overall revenue. So that’s more like a single ball than both balls. Still, it’s something.

    Why not just treat all income — wages, capital gains — as income, period. And treat corporate profits the same: make a lot, pay more. And what’s the magic about three rates? Why not 8, 14, 23 and 35%? Of course the answer is obvious: he’s still a Republican and has to kowtow to billionaires.

    So, it’s a mix of pandering to Republican constituencies, avoidance of the hard parts that would impact the rich, crapping on the middle and lower class, and some bold and useful ideas.

    Meh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. If he wants to eliminate “investment taxes”, why focus only on capital gains and dividends and not interest income as well? Why advatange people who can afford the risk of investing in equity and commodities over those invested in bonds, money markets, certificates of deposit, etc. (especially since they’re already getting hammered by our loose monetary policy)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Most so called “investment” today is not investment at all but gambling. The vast majority (99%) of Wall Street trading creates as much new capitol as the crap tables at Atlantic City and should be taxed as such.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. Racehorse says:

    @Rob in CT: EPA overreach: When Nixon started the EPA it had sensible goals, policies, and regulations. It had good leadership and did a lot of good, reasonable things. In the last several years, we have seen ridiculous and costly regulations such as: the emissions “controls” on cars that actually decrease gas mileage and line the pockets of politicians through the phony emissions “inspection” programs in the states. The ban on certain kinds of auto paints so now car paint doesn’t last as long as it used to: clear coat peels off after about five years. How about the weird protections of such “rare” creatures as the “speckled cockroach” and the “striped jumper flea”; protections like this have blocked development and cost jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  21. john personna says:

    @Racehorse:

    You understand that urban air quality has improved following these programs, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. SKI says:

    Shorter Huntsman Plan: Raise Taxes on Lower & Middle Class to pay for tax cut for Rich

    Question for Doug and other libertarians: If getting rid of deductions is an inherent good because the government shouldn’t be in the business of dictating/encouraging how people structure economic transactions, why do you support treating certain types of income differently? Why do you want to reverse course and treat income from capital gains differently from income from salary?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  23. Pete says:

    The mortgage interest deduction is used by something like 30% of tax filers, as most people do not itemize.

    But there exists no evidence that lowering tax rates increases job creation.

    Michael, I will take issue with you on this since I run a small business and will add people if my taxes allow. I already have enough money to satisfy my moderate lifestyle, so investing in extra labor to aid in my business growth is a no brainer. I’ll bet there are many other small business people who feel similarly, but I cannot prove it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. SKI says:

    @Pete:
    BS, Pete. You will add people if, and only if, the MARKET calls for more people.
    The taxes, unless they get so high as to eliminate the market, have no impact (or you are an idiot as a businessman).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Franklin says:

    @Rob in CT: Child Tax Credit: the idea here is to support having a family. Why not have it get increasingly less generous the more kids you have? Diminishing returns.

    I like that idea. And the phasing out of other deductions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just what one would expect from the Party for a Permanent Deficit. Dead in the water, as it should be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Pete says:

    @SKI: You have no idea how I run my business and you are entitled to your opinion, so I won’t try to enlighten you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. PD Shaw says:

    I believe Ramesh Ponnuru’s point about the child tax credit is that most of our entitlement programs are paid for by “the next generation,” and those that don’t have a next generation are being subsidized by not accounting for that distinction. I’m not sure that’s not at least a social-engineering concept, but its not purely one.

    Part of the policies in the Tax Code are more properly described as judgments as to the ability to pay. Progressive tax rates and the marriage penalty assume greater ability to extract money from wealthier and married people, while the child tax credit assumes less ability to pay if one has dependents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Fargus says:

    @Rob in CT: The Child Tax Credit doesn’t get increasingly less generous the more kids you have, but it’s only a $1000 tax credit, and then you get a $3700 or so exemption for having them as a dependent, and maybe you get some of your child care expenses back. That is, if you’re a regular middle-class person, the marginal benefit of having another kid, tax-wise, tops out at about $2000/yr (somewhere around $2500/yr if you’re into the top tax bracket). Perhaps you could build in some more diminishing of those returns for the more kids you have, but it seems to me that the time and money committed when having a kid far exceeds the amount you get in tax benefits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. legion says:

    First, I want to say that I have +1′ed everything Ron has to say in this thread.

    Second, I would like to point out that this is _exactly_ the sort of thing you get when you give power to a group that campaigns on “running government like a business”: You get a government that is run solely to make money for the people in charge of it, rather than for the benefit of the country’s citizens. If you can’t see that – if you can’t feel the sandpaper rubbing up against your asshole every time you vote Republican – then you’re simply not paying attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  31. David M says:

    It contains most of what I don’t want to see out of tax reform. The only part I could possibly see as useful is lowering corporate tax rates if enough exemptions are removed that it increases revenues overall.

    Fewer tax brackets? These aren’t the complicated part of tax code, and there should be more brackets. Topping out under a million doesn’t make sense today.

    Revenue neutral tax reform? We need more tax revenue period, no need to waste this opportunity to achieve that.

    Lower top marginal rate? Possibly the worst idea Huntsman has, as raising the top marginal rate should probably be the very first thing considered to increase tax revenue.

    No capital gains tax at all? Such a hideously regressive idea I can’t comment other than wonder why they aren’t also exempting regular incomes over 1 million from the income tax as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. Rob in CT says:

    @Racehorse:

    I guess I’d take this more seriously if it wasn’t standard GOP boilerplate. They always hate on the EPA, so it’s hard for me to take them seriously – even if they might have a point about specific instances.

    We have a real economic problem on our hands with environmental issues: the fact is that if we want clean air, drinking water, etc., we increase the expense of business. Other countries that don’t have rules about pollution will be even more attractive to the business owners. Why deal with the EPA (and state equivalents – let’s not forget that even if there was no EPA, there would still be the individual state DEPs, DECs, DEQs, etc) when you can go to some 3rd world country and enjoy not only cheap labor, but the advantages of externalizing all your pollution again?

    Theoretically, at some point those foreign countries will wake up and decide they don’t want their citizens poisoned, but then it’s just time for the factories to pick up & move elsewhere I guess.

    It’s depressing, really. And I don’t have good answers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. Rob in CT says:

    It boils down to this, Doug: the GOP, including Huntsman, looks at the current tax code and thinks two things:

    1) Revenue is at the right level, possibly too high; and
    2) The rich – particularly investors – pay too much and the middle class & poor pay too little.

    Every plan they put out reflects those two things.

    Do you agree with this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  34. john personna says:

    It’s OK to have a suspicion that this might shift tax load to the middle class, but you can’t say it as a fact. It will come down to the details, where those tax brackets live, and exactly how low corporate taxes will be.

    In all, you would need to test the new law against a database of current providers, to know who would be a winner or a loser.

    Again, you might suspect Huntsman has done that, but then again, he probably hasn’t. He’s probably throwing numbers out there. The devils are in the details, not the big-picture plan of “few deductions and lower base tax rate.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. snarky bastard says:

    @john personna:

    Disagree — you can start taking some sample families from a variety of income points and scenarios and start seeing how they game out.

    For instance, single head of household working parent with 2 kids making $17,000 a year is seeing their after-tax income decline (big driver here is the elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, with potential additional declines from the elimination of the 1,000/kid Child Tax Credit, and probably an increase in health-insurance costs as those benefits if provided through employment are now taxable)

    Or take a family of 3 with W2 income of 50,000 per year and a non-itemizable mortgage but significant student loan interest expense. The AGI is currently about $25,000. Their big hits under Huntsman are the loss of the Child tax credit, the student loan deduction, and their health insurance. They are currently in the 15% marginal bracket and have a total tax burden of roughly $4,500 before the Child Tax credit or $3,500 after applying that credit. Total tax rate would by roughly 7% , Their AGI under Huntsman is $27,500 plus the imputed cost of the lost child tax credit of $6,500 for a total comparable AGI of $34,000. It is highly likely that Huntsman’s proposal has a fairly low first bracket at 8% so the family is in the 14% bracket (not much of a “tax cut” especially since their AGI is effectively 40% higher) . It is extremely likely that this family is paying a higher percentage of their income in federal income taxes under Huntsman.

    Oh yeah, both of those scenarios assume absolutely no tax advantaged savings, no tax advantaged commuter options etc… Under those additions, the Huntsman plan is an even larger kick in the groin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. john personna says:

    @snarky bastard:

    I was thinking about it a different way, looking at the shifts in a demographically normalized way.

    That is, for it overall to be a shift onto “2 kids, $17K” or “3 kids, $50K” then there would have to be a lot of those. But I think you have highlighted another side of it, there might be specific low income and/or many kids losers under the shift.

    I’ll have to think about that, to what degree this is corner case, or typical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Rob in CT says:

    jp,

    The details are important, yes. However, the plan *eliminates* capital gains and dividend taxation. The impact of that is pretty obvious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The details are important, yes. However, the plan *eliminates* capital gains and dividend taxation. The impact of that is pretty obvious.

    Right. In theory a high corporate tax rate could justify that, but a low one certainly would not.

    (If you really do tax corporate income before it is passed on, then you taxed it.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Fargus says:

    Eliminating the EITC falls entirely on low-income folks. Sure, some of that might be cleared up by lower rates, potentially, but again, it’s going to depend where those brackets start. Dropping the Child Tax Credit is kind of huge, too.

    Let’s say you’ve got someone single who makes $23,000 in AGI (and further assume, for this example, that AGI = Earned Income) and has 3 kids. Currently, that person would be able to claim $3,000 between the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit, and about $4290 in EITC. Total tax liability of $610 after the standard deduction and personal exemptions, for a refund of somewhere around $6680.

    Under Huntsman’s plan, that extra $7290 is simply gone. The only mechanism he has for a family like this, if they get no credits, is to lower rates. It’s undeniable that, compared to the status quo, single-parent families making very little money would suffer under the Huntsman plan.

    Let’s say that same family makes $42,000 a year. For that family, tax liability roughly cancels out with the Child and Earned Income Tax Credits. No refund, no liability. Assuming Huntsman’s plan, with the current deductions and exemptions, that family would make about $25,100 in taxable income. At a minimum, under Huntsman’s plan (that is, if all of that income fell into the 8% tax bracket), that family’s tax liability would go up to $2000. Are we prepared to say that what this country really needs is to make sure that single parents-of-three, making only $42,000 a year, need to pay $2,000 more in taxes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. SKI says:

    @Pete:
    True. You _MIGHT_ be a complete idiot who would rather make less money than pay any more taxes but I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Stan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The same question occurred to me when the Bush tax cuts were passed. Why not cut taxes on interest from money market investments and savings accounts? The answer (of course) is that a way had to be found to benefit well off people, particularly really well off people, but it had to be disguised.

    As far as Huntsman’s “jobs” plan goes, you have to ask what kind of person would want to make America even more of a two class society.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @Pete:
    Obviously I won’t take issue with how you run your business. I have those arguments sometimes where people tell me I “must” this or that thing and I keep saying, “But I actually live my life . . .”

    That said: Mr. Bush cut taxes. Net jobs created. Zip.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. Ron Beasley says:

    @Rob in CT: Thanks Rob – as an engineer i am a firm believer in efficiency – that includes an efficiency of words. Call em you as see em.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. John says:

    It seems to me like Huntsman’s apparent attempt to eclipse all previous Republican giveaways, including the disastrous Bush tax cuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0