Republican Tax Plan Hurts Young People — 7 Ways the GOP Tax Bill Will Cost You


The White House promised Americans a new tax code by Christmas this year, and if the blueprint the House approved is any indication, the changes are more of a lump of coal in your stocking than any sort of beribboned gift. While a handful of Republican senators remain on the fence, the latest indications of support from Maine Senator Susan Collins, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker–as well as a procedural vote to move forward with debate–signal that the GOP likely has enough votes to pass their version of the bill.

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So what will January 2018 look like for your wallet? A little bit lighter and a whole lot worse. Here are seven changes expected to hit you where it hurts.

1. You will probably pay more in taxes—if not now, eventually.

Republicans claim they are offering a simpler, refined tax code with less brackets and a much bigger standard deduction ($12,000 for an individual, up from $6,350, meaning more savings for the lower and middle class). But the House and Senate disagree right now on how many brackets there should be and how much each should be taxed.

Those who earn less than $9,325 would see a rate increase under the House plan, affecting those who may work part-time due to school or family obligations. And under both plans, those who earn between $200,000 and $416,700 would also see a rate hike, from 33 percent to 35 percent. While the standard deduction will double, personal exemptions will be eliminated. So a single person who had a $6,350 deduction and a $4,050 personal exemption would instead just have one $12,000 standard deduction. According to Business Insider, “About 70% of Americans claim the standard deduction when filing their taxes, and their paychecks will almost certainly increase—albeit slightly—if tax reform passes.” (Business Insider’s chart comparing both plans to the current structure can show you where you might fall.)

But these new tax cuts for those who earn less than $75,000 a year will steadily phase out, leaving those earners facing tax hikes by 2027 at the latest. This means that, within a decade, any advantage you may have seen from the new code will have completely whittled away. Depending on how the House and Senate ultimately reconcile their bills, the new plan could also eliminate the ability to deduct state and local taxes (SALT) and cap deducting property taxes at $10,000, a change that could end up undoing any benefit from a larger standard deduction, especially in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California.

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The GOP is pushing a double-sized standard deduction as an incentive to stop doing itemized deductions, but for the millions of people who are self-employed freelancers, contractors, or other gig economy workers no longer itemizing deductions could actually make their tax bills higher, not lower, come tax day. While there are advantages for the self-employed in the new tax bill, those come primarily to tax filers who declare themselves as actual LLCs or corporations (“pass-through” businesses”). As one small business analysis blog explained, “The vast majority of freelancers and other independent workers also aren’t going to benefit. Based on what we’ve seen so far, few if any traditional freelancers and independent contractors will be able to take advantage of the pass-through provision, even if they make a lot money.” Considering the gig economy is expected to take up 43 percent of the workforce by 2020, this could hit you hard for years to come.

2. Getting a degree will be even more expensive.

Still planning on college or grad school–or still paying it off? It’s about to get even harder, since the new plan won’t allow you to deduct your student loan interest from your income at tax time. The GOP also decided to count tuition breaks – the amount a school reduces the cost of your tuition based on hours you work on campus – as earned income for teaching assistants and research assistants, upping their taxable income and making grad school unaffordable for many. They will also be taxing any tuition reimbursements you might receive from an employer as income, too. Meanwhile, don’t expect colleges and universities to pick up the slack, either. The new code will be making some larger private school endowment earnings–a source of many grants and scholarships for lower-income students needing financial aid–taxable.

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3. Your insurance costs will go up.

If you have an insurance plan through the federal or state exchanges, odds are you are going to see a rate hike down the road thanks to the GOP. Unable to get an Obamacare repeal through the Senate, Republicans wrote ending the individual mandate for health insurance coverage into the tax bill. Once it passes, Americans will no longer have to choose between having health insurance or paying a fine, a policy that forced more healthy people into the insurance pools, bringing down the rates for everyone. Senators like Susan Collins, who fought against repealing the individual mandate during the repeal and replace process earlier this year, have agreed to allow it to be pulled in exchange for funding pools to help high-risk patients afford coverage instead. But if the individual mandate is ended, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts a cut of $338 billion from Medicaid and insurance subsidies over the next 10 years, as well as a “death spiral” as healthy people pull out of the insurance pool, collapsing the ACA completely. Stay insured and your payments will increase. Go uninsured and paying out of pocket will be more expensive, too, since the new plan eliminates the ability to deduct health care expenses from your taxes if they make up more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. With 20 percent of millennials saying they can’t afford routine health-care costs and another 26 percent saying they can only barely afford them, these are increases few will be able to absorb.

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4. Your child tax credit increase may not be the boon you think it is.

One of the biggest draws of the tax bill is that it will also double the current child tax credit, taking it from $1,000 per child to $2,000. In exchange for the increase, the credit is now open to all families making up to $294,000 under the House plan or $500,000 under the Senate plan, meaning that the wealthy will now be able to get a credit whereas they earned too much to receive it before. But low-income earners–and even some middle-income earners–won’t see the full credit at all. The credit continues to be only partially refundable (under the Senate plan, your credit is limited to 15 percent of your income once you earn $2,500), meaning only high-income families would even have a shot at receiving the full $2,000.

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“Republicans have highlighted the CTC expansion as their plan’s signature benefit for working families. But 10 million children whose parents work for low pay—about 1 in 7 of all U.S. children in working families—live in families that would receive a token benefit of $75 or less from the proposal,” reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank. “Another 16 million children in working families would receive more than $75 but less than the full $1,000-per-child increase in the credit (in most cases, much less). Altogether, well more than 1 in 3 children in low- and moderate-income working families would receive less than the full proposed CTC increase.”

This could still change, however. Republican Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Mike Lee (Utah) are proposing an amendment to make more of the expansion refundable by tying it to payroll taxes, which more lower-income people are subject to. But that will need to be approved by the Senate, and then the House needs to agree. Meanwhile, the regular personal deduction that a taxpayer gets per child (about $4,000) will be eliminated, leaving you more income to pay taxes on. This is expected to especially impact single parents filing as heads of household, who are more often women. Even if the tax credit does outweigh losing your deductions–and that will depend primarily on your income and how many kids you have–that would only be a short-term gain. In the Senate’s bill the expanded credit would expire in 2025.

5. Your home value could plummet.

If you are one of the roughly 34 percent of Americans under 35 who actually own a home, well, you may be kissing your equity goodbye. Housing deductions are one place the House and Senate versions don’t agree yet, but it’s likely the mortgage interest deduction will be eliminated or reduced and that will make people less likely to purchase homes. Less demand means less value in your own home And if you are like many millennials waiting to purchase your first home, you may really feel the pinch, since many are skipping the “starter home” phase of home ownership and going straight to larger houses that can hold a family or friends. These homes often exceed the $500,000 cap the House wants to put on homes eligible for a mortgage deduction, especially in urban areas with high housing prices that draw a younger population. No wonder the National Association of Realtors is opposing the tax reform bill.

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6. You may need to start funding a private school education.

If the GOP does follow through with reducing or eliminating the ability to deduct state and local taxes and property taxes, you can expect higher taxed states to try to decrease their own budget demands. That means less money going into state and city support for public endeavors, especially public schools. Underfunded public schools mean lower-quality education–and leave parents looking for paid, better financed private options. Considering the burdens the new tax code will already put on you purchasing a “forever” home, finding it in just the right school district will make things even harder.

7. You’ll find out that social safety net is now completely full of holes.

Of course, all of these tax breaks are going to be funded with spending cuts, and most of them are coming from the budget of the social safety net programs. Medicaid, Medicare, supplemental nutrition programs, early education, childcare grants, social security payments, housing assistance, and other programs are expected to be cut by a whopping $5.8 trillion. Many of these issues won’t affect you now, but they are going to compound, and by the time you are older, Medicaid and Social Security may be completely gone, just when you really need it.

Robin Marty is the co-author of Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Became the New Standard in Women’s Health and How We Can Change That. Follow her on Twitter.



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