The good and the bad of Donald Trump's personal income tax policy

I wrote earlier today how Trump could “surprise me in a good way” over his tax plan, and you know, he did. His personal income tax reform plan for people who don’t have stocks is really simple and something which he should be praised for.


The simplification is really good and is a lot easier than the current system. Good on Trump for doing this. From a personal standpoint, I prefer either a very low flat tax (7%) or zero income tax at all. But the income tax part of Trump’s plan isn’t bad at all. I’m still not sure how those making under $25K will do their taxes and be able to keep their money. The way the current system is set up, people get taxes taken out every paycheck and get their money back from the government after they file taxes. That one page “I win” form Trump talks about in his plan is pure fantasy and honestly leaves his system rife for fraud if it simply means people will pay the taxes they want to pay (although honestly, I’d love to be in that system).

The plan gets a lot trickier when it comes to stocks and the long term capital gains/dividends rate. It’s here where Trump decides to raise taxes, specifically on those who make over $100K a year. Here’s the current tax rate on long term capital gains/dividends per Charles Schwab.


Here’s Trump’s with the focus on the long term capital gains/dividends.


So what Trump is saying is if you earn over $150k a year and have stocks, you deserve to pay more. This isn’t going after hedge fund managers, this is going after people who use their hard-earned money to buy stocks or people who maybe were given stock options when they signed on with a company. This might force single filers right around $150K to decide to sell their stocks to take the short-term financial hit, instead of having to pay more each year. It’s what I’d if I had a stock like Apple or Google or some other high-earning stock and made $150k. I’d sell the stock and stick the profit in a savings account or 401K and just forget about it.

There’s something else about Trump’s plan which no one is talking about- it’s really similar to Jeb Bush’s plan, just slightly smaller in a couple parts. Here’s Bush’s plan.

We will cut individual rates from seven brackets to three: 28%, 25% and 10%. At 28%, the highest tax bracket would return to where it was when President Ronald Reagan signed into law his monumental and successful 1986 tax reform.

Bush’s corporate tax rate is 20%, while Trump’s is 15% (Rand Paul’s is the lowest at 14.5%). I prefer Trump’s over Bush’s, but Paul’s over Trump’s. It’s just amusing to see how similar Bush and Trump’s plans are. I’m not going to be going into the weeds on his repatriation of corporate cash plan because I want to study it a little more. I really don’t think companies should be punished for moving their money overseas. It honestly makes sense for them to want to do this if it saves them money. But I want to study it more before commenting further.

The thing which bugs me the most out of all this is how will Trump pay for everything he wants to do? He’s talked single-payer for low-income families, making the military so strong no one will want to mess with the U.S., and not doing anything to Social Security. He’s already called this tax plan “revenue neutral,” so how will he pay for what he wants to do. This is where Republican keep failing over and over when it comes to balancing the budget and cutting down debt. They get the equation half right with tax cuts, but fail to do the spending cuts needed to chomp away at the debt. I mention Calvin Coolidge a lot, but there’s a reason. He’s the only president in the last 100 years to actually cut spending on a consistent basis, while lowering taxes. George W. Bush didn’t do it and neither did Reagan. Trump and the other candidates have to answer how they’ll save the country money, rather than just yelling, “cut taxes!”

Trump’s personal income tax plan isn’t bad at all, except for the long term capital gains/dividends rate hikes. It’s nice to see him put out a proposal I can mostly agree with, even if I don’t think it goes far enough (but I don’t think any of the candidates’ plans go far enough). I still have concerns about how he’d pay for everything he wants to do. I’m also curious whether those who aren’t supposed to pay taxes would get cash taken out of their paychecks before getting it all back at the end of the tax year. But it’s certainly less Bernie Sanders than he made it out to be on 60 Minutes. Which is a good thing.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023