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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Tax Cut: Womp, Womp, Womp

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

From the Congressional Research Service:
.The 2017 tax revisionP.L. 115-97, often referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and referred to subsequently as the Act, substantially revised the U.S. tax system ...The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that these changes would reduce tax revenue by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
In 2018, gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 2.9%, about the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) projected rate published in 2017 before the tax cut. On the whole, the growth effects tend to show a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy. Although growth rates cannot indicate the tax cut's effects on GDP, they tend to rule out very large effects particularly in the short run. Although investment grew significantly, the growth patterns for different types of assets do not appear to be consistent with the direction and size of the supply-side incentive effects one would expect from the tax changes. This potential outcome may raise questions about how much longer-run growth will result from the tax revision.
CBO, in its first baseline update post enactment, initially estimated that the Act would reduce individual income taxes by $65 billion, corporate income taxes by $94 billion, and other taxes by $3 billion, for a total reduction of $163 billion in FY2018. Corporate revenues were about $40 billion less than projected whereas individual revenues were higher, with an overall revenue reduction of about $9 billion. From 2017 to 2018, the estimated average corporate tax rate fell from 23.4% to 12.1% and individual income taxes as a percentage of personal income fell slightly from 9.6% to 9.2%.
Real wages grew more slowly than GDP: at 2.0% (adjusted by the GDP deflator) compared with 2.9% for overall real GDP. Such slower growth has occurred in the past. The real wage rate for production and nonsupervisory workers grew by 1.2%.
Although significant amounts of dividends were repatriated in 2018 compared with previous years, the data do not appear to show a significant increase in investment flows from abroad. While evidence does indicate significant repurchases of shares, either from tax cuts or repatriated revenues, relatively little was directed to paying worker bonuses, which had been announced by some firms.
Although the legislation contained a number of provisions that discouraged inversions (shifting headquarters of U.S. firms abroad), these inversions had apparently already been significantly slowed by regulations adopted in 2014, 2015, and 2016.