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H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act


Tax 'Reform'

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has analyzed this legislation, concluding that the top 1% of taxpayers will get almost half of the tax cuts. The taxes of 36 million middle income filers will go up. A key reason for this is because H.R. 1 terminates or limits many deductions that help people lower their tax obligations. Here is a list of just some of them:

  • Medical expenses, such as long-term care needs, can no longer be deducted;
  • Teachers who use their own money to buy classroom supplies can no longer deduct that cost;
  • State and local taxes can no longer be deducted;
  • Property tax deductions are capped at $10,000;
  • The mortgage interest deduction only applies to $500,000 of a homeowner’s mortgage;
  • The student loan interest deduction is eliminated;
  • The deduction for dependent care assistance, which is used for day care expenses and to help care for older parents, is terminated;
  • Graduate students who do research or teach a class and receive a tuition waiver as a result will have to treat that waiver as taxable income.

Corporations, however, will find a lot to like in H.R. 1. Their tax rate will go down by 15% in year one. This alone carries a $1.5 trillion bill over ten years. Ultimately, this legislation increases our nation’s debt by $1.7 trillion.

Under H.R. 1, the estate tax will only apply to estates larger than $22 million and will eventually be phased out. It also weakens the Johnson amendment which, under current law, prohibits churches and certain nonprofits from endorsing political candidates. Charitable deductions are tax-deductible but political contributions are not. Faith communities can and should exercise their First Amendment right to express their beliefs and opinions, but U.S. law has, until now, prevented donors from channeling money to candidates through religious or philanthropic organizations. The bill also gives new legal rights to a fetus by recognizing an unborn child as an individual. This is a step toward establishing personhood from the moment of conception.

The Senate is currently debating a different tax proposal, one that repeals the individual health insurance mandate. This is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fee. It is the foundation of the ACA. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if this provision prevails, it will result in premiums going up for everyone an average of 10% and 13 million people losing health care.

Congressional Republicans are hoping to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills by Christmas. I spoke on the House floor about this bill, noting just some of its lowlights. I voted NO. H.R. 1 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















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