It’s Time to Tax the Rich

Written by Melissa Boteach

Congress is currently grappling with a “Kiddie Tax” bill meant to roll back parts of the 2017 tax law that hiked up taxes on the benefits children of fallen military members—tax rates which now resemble those for trusts and estates. This is just the latest in a series of alarming outcomes from the bill GOP lawmakers claimed would benefit all Americans.

Eighteen months after passage of Trump’s tax plan, the law remains deeply unpopular. It turns out that people don’t like tax cuts for the rich, and that they especially don’t like it when those tax cuts are paid for by cutting their healthcare. Across party lines, they want the wealthy to pay more, not less.  This is especially true for women, who opposed the plan at even higher margins than men—and were uniquely, and negatively, impacted by it.

Rather than grappling with these facts, lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Grassley are feigning outrage—insisting that it’s their political opponents, and the media, who are to blame for the overwhelming unpopularity of a law nobody likes. If only people just understood how the tax law benefits them, Grassley insists, they would come around.

This is gaslighting: People don’t dislike the tax law because they’ve been misinformed; to the contrary, they’ve got a lot of their facts straight. They dislike the tax law because they are clear on who it benefits—and it isn’t them.

The average tax cut in 2018 for a worker making $25,000 or less—the people who care for our kids and our parents, clean our offices, serve our coffee—is a whopping 40 dollars. These workers, I should note, are overwhelmingly women and people of color.

The richest one percent of Americans, in contrast, got an average tax cut of $51,000 last year—more than the annual income of the median worker.  The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that, with approximately 83 percent of the law’s benefits going to the richest one percent of households, nearly 100 million households will also have an even higher tax bill by 2027. What’s worse, the tax law was paid for, in part, by stripping millions of workers of their health care, or increasing their premiums well beyond 40 dollars per year.

Women, children and families were hit especially hard by the law. Trump brags about how the tax law increased the standard deduction, but what he doesn’t mention is that the law eliminated the personal and dependent exemptions—which erases most, if not all, of the benefits families received. While the law increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit, it left the families struggling the most in our economy out of the full increase: 26 million children, disproportionately children of color, will not receive the full increase, and one million children in taxpaying immigrant families will be denied it completely. No need to worry, though, about the children of the super-rich: Trump and congressional Republicans doubled the income exempted from the estate tax, ensuring them an even higher inheritance.

Because the tax law was drafted secretly and hastily in back rooms where most wealthy white men held the proverbial pen, there also remain elements whose impacts we still don’t fully understand, or whose harmful unintended consequences are still unclear. We don’t yet know the full impact of provisions that create disincentives for corporations to settle sexual harassment claims, or discourage divorcing couples from settling on alimony. The tax law also inadvertently taxed the monthly compensation of Gold Star families who lost a loved one in combat; errors like these get enshrined into law when lawmakers negotiate secretly, hastily and without full and robust debate.

But one problematic provision was intentional: The tax law is the embodiment of a longer-term strategy by conservatives to starve the government of the revenue it needs to make public investments. Republicans didn’t blink an eye at adding $1.9 trillion to the deficit for lopsided tax cuts. But since the law was passed, they have conveniently become deficit hawks—proposing draconian budget cuts to health care, nutrition assistance, education and other basic building blocks of shared economic prosperity.

Surely Senator Grassley should understand why people are angry about this tax bill.

It’s no surprise that people do not like giving a lopsided tax cut to millionaires and corporations, or seeing Gold Star Families taxed as if they were wealthy. Rather than feign outrage, lawmakers like Grassley should start listening to their constituents—the overwhelming majority of whom want to tax the rich.

This post originally appeared on Ms. Magazine.

Photo Credit: Molly Adams/Flickr


Ben O
Ben O9 days ago

It has been time to tax the rich for FIFTY years!!!

Pam Bruce
Pam Bruce12 days ago

Start with Trump and all his friends. Tax them into the poor house.

Lesa D
Lesa D18 days ago

thank you Melissa...

Mary B
Mary Babout a month ago

Oh for crying out loud ! Either TAX THE RICH or print enough money so that everybody has enough to live on and mind your own business and quite worrying about if they 'deserve it' or what they spend it on.

Joan E
Joan Eabout a month ago

Boy, is it ever time to make the economy fair to us, not the greedy rich.

Brian F
Brian Fabout a month ago

Many of these rich crooks are Democrats like Nancy Pelosi who is worth 200 million dollars and Corry Booker who has taken 19 million dollars from big pharmaceutical companies, banks and Wall Street. We need to raise taxes to 90%, close all loopholes so companies like Amazon that pay no taxes, are forced to pay their fair share of taxes, create a UBI that pays everyone $1000 a month, raise the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour automatically index it for inflation each year, and limit corporate CEO pay to no more than 8 times the pay of the average worker. The average corporate CEO makes over 300 times the pay of the average worker. This should be against the law.

Karen Swenson
Karen Swensonabout a month ago

@Ruth S-- You are absolutely right --we have too many lazy asses living off of our taxes that are meant for the needy, and they are called, The Rich! Warren Buffet still pays less in taxes than his Secretary. Are you really that naive to believe all these filthy rich people got that way on their own volition? Many are suckling at the teat of their rich great/grandfathers/fathers like the Hiltons, Kennedy's, Bushes, Trump, etc. I know it must be devastating, working their delicate fingers to the bone, like Betsy Devos, to live like Kings, hoarding all the money and keeping track of 10 yachts, summer homes, helicopters, living lives we can't even imagine. Yes, they deserve the rewards and not punishment, like paying their fair share of taxes, for their hard earned success, aka, Nepotism. Sob--and me without a Kleenix!

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a month ago

Funny that so many want to increase the social security maximum. Why? These people do not need to collect more when they retire.

pam w
pam wabout a month ago

Vote BLUE!

Linda Wallace
Linda Wallaceabout a month ago

Taxing the poor and saving the rich just might lead to revolution.