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Exposing the Tax Scam, One Year In: Hearing From the Public

One thing made clear by the outcome of the November election is that the massive tax giveaway bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017, was hugely unpopular, especially with voters in states where it mattered most. Instead of going to the table in a bipartisan manner to hammer out how to really fix the tax code to best invest taxpayer dollars, the GOP rushed through a $2 trillion dollar package of tax cuts greatly tilted toward benefitting the super rich and corporations. Workers were promised bonuses and wage hikes as the tax cuts were supposed to “trickle-down.” Unsurprisingly, President Trump’s magical $4,000 check for everyone has yet to manifest, and it never will. In a word, the tax bill was a scam.

Another predictable, but still sad, outcome of the tax giveaway scam is that we’re seeing job cuts at American factories with well-known names like GM and Harley-Davidson. And because of backward incentives baked into the tax bill that let companies pay half or less the rate of tax on profits made by foreign subsidiaries it will attract even more multinational corporations to outsource jobs and investments.

And, instead of building up operations, corporations are buying back their own stock at record volumes, which increases the value of existing shares and lines the pockets of CEOs getting fat bonuses. At current count, companies have spent 121 times as much on buybacks as on giving bonuses or increased wages for workers.

It doesn’t stop there. Millionaires will reap the majority of the “small business” breaks, while true small business owners were left with a tax code more complicated and difficult to navigate than before. Gender and racial inequities were further entrenched. These are just a small sampling of the many ways the tax law changes have proven to be a failure one year after the tax giveaways were gifted to the corporations and mega wealthy.

Certainly, we already know that the new House majority has prioritized release of presidential tax returns as part of their ethics platform scheduled first up on the docket and incoming Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal has the power to obtain President Trump’s tax return. Not only are the returns critical to understanding the extent to which he personally benefitted from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but the potential ramifications for the Mueller investigation are also huge. The New York Times has already documented alleged past tax fraud and New York State is currently suing the Trump family for their tax dealings through the Trump Foundation.

As important as that is for oversight and protecting our democracy, American families and communities across the country are suffering from a lack of available government funding. Teachers are going on strike because of the appalling conditions at their schools, our streets and bridges are crumbling, and health care is accessible for far too few. These problems are only going to get worse unless we act to repeal the tax handouts to the rich and corporations, close the loopholes that are bleeding our country of tax dollars, and implement new sources of revenue generation like taxing Wall Street trades.

As we mark one year since the passage of this terrible tax bill, Congress needs to hear from the public that they must do more than just focus on Trump’s tax returns, they need to repeal cuts, close loopholes, and get new revenue to invest in a better America.

Public Citizen and our partners are hosting a chat on Twitter on December 17 at 2:00 pm Eastern. You can add your voice to the conversation and join the chat by following #TaxScamTurns1. And, while you’re at it, why not tag your Tweets with the handle of your U.S. Representative (or U.S. Representative-elect) and tell her or him that in addition to seeing Trump’s tax returns, America needs to unrig the tax code and implement a tax fairness vision that creates significant revenues to invest in our communities.

Finally, follow this blog for a series of posts this week as we expose the tax scam one year in.