Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris faced off in their first and only debate last night, during which Harris promised, “On day one, Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill, he’ll get rid of it.”
After Pence responded by reiterating to Americans that “Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes,” Harris attempted to reverse herself, claiming their plan wouldn’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. Even better, she said it would cut taxes for middle-class families.
“The fact is Joe Biden has been very clear, he will not raise taxes on anybody who makes less than $400,000 a year,” she said.
Is it possible to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without raising taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year?
-Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.
For starters, Harris said Joe Biden would repeal the Trump tax cuts—not reform the law or partially repeal it. On multiple occasions, Biden has made the same claim. Here are two examples:
“First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts,” Biden said back in May. During the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, he repeated that claim. “I’m going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts,” Biden said.
If we’re taking Biden and Harris at their word, then it would be impossible to repeal the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without raising taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year.
Multiple analyses, including one by The Heritage Foundation that used IRS data, found that Americans saw their average effective tax rates decline by 13% thanks to the tax cuts. “Despite claims to the contrary,” Heritage concluded, “every income group benefited from the tax cut.”
The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers found the typical family of four received a $2,000 tax cut in the year 2018 alone. And that’s not to mention all the other benefits workers saw thanks to pre-pandemic historically low unemployment rates and a strong economy.
If every income group benefited from the tax cuts, every income group stands to lose if the tax cuts are repealed.
However, on paper, Biden’s tax plan is more complex. As The Wall Street Journal explains:
Candidate Joe Biden would keep the cuts for what he describes as middle-income households but raise taxes sharply on corporations and households making more than $400,000 a year. The goal: to raise $3 trillion to $4 trillion over a decade for education, health care and other social programs. Estimates vary on the total size of the Biden proposals. Mr. Biden’s spending plans exceed his proposed tax revenue, in part because of his support of short-term expansion of budget deficits to stimulate the economy.
If it’s true that the Biden administration wants to repeal the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act only in part, they should say that—not the contrary. But even if the Trump tax cuts get repealed in part, it will still have massive implications on jobs, the economy, the country’s deficit, and the American people. Across the board, Americans will still lose money.
As IWF’s Patrice Onwuka explained:
We cannot underscore how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act impacted workers and families. They cut individual income tax rates, expanded the standard deduction (likely leading fewer households to itemize this year), nearly doubled the child tax credit and cut back or eliminated some tax breaks.In addition, over 4 million workers received salary increases, bonuses and new benefits such as paid parental leave because of corporate tax cuts.
So when Pence claimed during the debate: “America, you just heard Sen. Harris tell you, on Day One, Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes,” it’s fair to say that according to the candidate’s own rhetoric, he was right.
Moreover, if a Biden-Harris administration partially repeals the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans still stand to lose vital income in more ways than one. And if Biden and Harris want to reform the Trump tax cuts instead of repealing them all together, they should start representing that position—and stop pretending that for the vast majority of Americans making less than $400,000 a year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act didn’t work.