Testimony: The Opportunities for Individual Tax Reform

The opportunity for fundamental and comprehensive tax reform is before this Committee for the first time in many decades. As every Member of this Committee well knows, the tax code has frequently and sometimes significantly changed over the last 30 years, but not since 1986 has it been truly reformed in a manner that sought to broaden the base – that is, eliminate special deductions, credits, and exclusions– while lowering statutory tax rates. As Senators Hatch, Wyden, Roberts, and Grassley know firsthand, that legislative process was arduous and sometimes controversial, but the 1986 Tax Reform Act did result in a simpler income tax code with a broader tax base and significantly lower statutory tax rates.

AEI Tax Brief: Child Tax Credit Options

Under current law, a taxpayer can claim a Child Tax Credit (CTC) of up to $1,000 for each qualified child under 17 years of age. The credit amount is dependent on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income. If the CTC is greater than the amount of taxes owed, taxpayers may be eligible for the partially refundable Additional Child Tax Credit.

AEI Tax Brief: Repealing the Personal Exemption

Under current law, a taxpayer can claim a personal exemption for themself, his or her spouse, and each qualified dependent. The personal exemption amount for 2017 will be $4,050. The actual benefit depends on the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate and gross income. Taxpayers can also claim a standard deduction as an alternative to itemizing deductions. In 2017, the standard deduction will be $6,350 for single filers, $9,350 for head-of-household filers, and $12,700 for married couples filing jointly.

Trump Says His Tax Break Will Get Companies to Hire More Workers. Companies Say It Won’t.

“Trump wants to bring that money back to the United States to spur jobs and growth, and he’s been aggressively pitching a plan to offer companies a large tax break if they bring all those dollars back to America soon. Under Trump’s proposal, companies would only have to pay a 10 percent tax on money they bring back — a process often called ‘repatriation’ — rather than the usual 35 percent. . . . The [George W. Bush] White House tried this once before, and the results were grim. . . . “

3 Reasons Why Tax Reform Could Have Unintended Consequences

[Alex] Brill estimated that of all the money saved by local and state taxpayers with this deduction, 89 percent comes from those with incomes of $100,000 or higher. “In other words, the policy itself is highly regressive,” Brill told the Senate Finance Committee in prepared testimony Sept. 14. “It is available only to the minority of taxpayers who itemize their taxes (generally higher-income taxpayers) and is more valuable to taxpayers in higher tax brackets.””

Economist Warns of Dire Consequences if Tax Reform Stalls

“[Alex Brill] emphasized that Congress’s tax reform timeline should not be dictated by attempts to ‘micromanage the quarter-by-quarter performance of the U.S. economy.’ Still, Brill acknowledged that it’s politically important to prioritize and maintain momentum on tax reform. ‘Moving slowly raises the risk that the process will never conclude,’ he said.”

MGA’s Alex Brill on CNBC’s Squawk Box

“I see the speech yesterday as the president’s strongest commitment into engaging in this policy process…. We are eight months into the administration…. But I am hopeful this is the beginning, as the president said, the kick off I think of a concerted effort to move from the tax code we have to a kind tax code that republicans have been talking about for well more than a year now. One with a broader base and lower rates.”

Finding a Path to a Carbon Tax, Eventually

“‘I’m an advocate of a revenue-neutral carbon tax if the revenue raised is used to reduce or eliminate taxes that are most harmful to the economy,’ said Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute. ‘That would be a great trade,’ he said before adding that it is not something that is about to happen. ‘As a matter of politics, the environment for a carbon tax has not matured to the point that a majority of lawmakers are ready to embrace it,’ Brill said. ‘It would be premature for those who think a carbon tax is a good idea to try to chase the next legislative train,’ he said. And while there is a risk of trying to rush a carbon tax into the political process, there is also a risk in believing that a carbon tax is always going to be a long-term project, he added.”

We’re Paying the Bill for Opioid Crisis

“Outside of the cost to local communities, experts have also linked the economic impact of the opioid crisis to rising insurance costs in both the private and public sector. A study by Matrix Global Advisors, a policy group based in Washington, D.C., shows that the cost of the opioid epidemic in Michigan costs every resident in the state about $84 a year. . . . ‘The healthcare costs associated with opioid abuse are the equivalent of an extra $84 in healthcare costs per Michigan resident every year,’ said Christy Robinson, Matrix Global Advisors director. ‘But determining who pays which part of the $84 is outside of the scope of our analysis.'”