A growing chorus of outrage has been rising from people doing their taxes. Social media is filled with recent stories of Trump supporters who have always received tax refunds but this year are having to make big, unexpected tax payments. It’s bad enough that anyone who itemizes their deductions is constrained by the alternative minimum tax (AMT) calculation. The government is basically saying, “you can take some deductions to give the tax code the appearance of favoring certain spending (charitable giving, home ownership, etc.) but in reality we don’t want these deductions to keep the IRS from getting your money.” But now, the GOP tax scam has made things worse. Some of the deductions themselves are capped, including mortgage interest and state-and-local taxes. It’s easy to think that certain expenses will be deductible but the reality is that the IRS will still get a good chunk of the money they would get if nothing were deductible.
Trump and the GOP made the tax obligations of many people larger, which was a raw deal for many non-wealthy Americans, especially in high tax states like New York and California. But Trump and the GOP did a lot more than that to increase inequality and give more money to the wealthiest. While they were making your AMT more onerous, they completely eliminated the corporate AMT. To be fair, the tax code was already slanted toward corporations. Many corporations with large profits regularly pay no taxes whatsoever, especially if they were in businesses that successfully lobbied Congress to give their sector special tax breaks. Real estate and fossil fuel extraction come to mind–pure corporate welfare. But there were some corporations that despite many deductions still had to pay a minimum tax, just like individuals.
But now, the corporate AMT is gone, eliminated in the tax scam. This was another giveaway to CEOs and executives whose fortunes are tied to stock prices and dividends, at the expense of the rest of America. Fewer tax dollars will be collected from these businesses, which means that more will need to come from individuals–otherwise fewer dollars will be spent on things like unemployment insurance or healthcare or roads.
Corporate America owns our government, especially in the era of Trump, and it’s glaringly obvious when you look at our tax laws. So the next time you write a check to the US Treasury, remember that it’s partly because your voice and your vote don’t matter as much as the millions invested in politicians by giant corporations–investments that reap billions in returns.
The sooner we get big money out of politics, the sooner policies like the tax code will start to work for average Americans instead of CEOs. It’s one of the many issues that set Democrats apart from Trump and his corrupt party.