The world is ready to close the book on 2020 and start fresh in 2021, awaiting widespread vaccination, an end to the pandemic, and the beginning of a new chapter of economic recovery. With a fresh start in mind, and a healthy dose of optimism, here are three New Year’s resolutions for crafting better tax policy in the coming year.
Erica York is Senior Economist and Research Manager with Tax Foundation’s Center for Federal Tax Policy. She previously worked as an auditor at a large community bank in Kansas and interned at Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy.
Her analysis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico, and other national and international media outlets. She holds a master’s degree in Economics from Wichita State University and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Economics from Sterling (KS) College, where she is currently an adjunct professor. Erica lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children.
The latest $900 billion coronavirus relief bill extends and modifies several provisions first enacted in the CARES Act, Congress’s $2.2 trillion pandemic relief law that was passed in March. With this package, lawmakers will have responded to the coronavirus and related economic hardship with a record-setting $3 trillion of fiscal support.
Tax extenders are no stranger to hitching a last-minute ride on year-end legislation. This year they made another last-minute appearance, finding a hold in their own division of the 5,593-page bill to fund the government through the fiscal year and provide additional coronavirus relief through March.
The coronavirus relief package represents the second-largest recovery legislation, behind only the CARES Act, for a combined total of more than $3 trillion in support.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers released two compromise relief bills to address the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling about $908 billion: The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act and the Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act.
With days left until government funding runs out, congressional lawmakers are down to the wire to fund the government and provide additional pandemic-related relief to the households and businesses trying to make it through the winter.
While a sweeping tax policy bill is unlikely in the near future, lawmakers may be able to come together on a smaller scale. Pairing better cost recovery on a permanent basis with support for vulnerable households as well as additional pandemic-related relief would help promote a more rapid return to growth and help businesses and households weather the ongoing crisis.
At the end of 2020, 33 temporary tax provisions are scheduled to expire at the federal level. These provisions generally fall under four categories: cost recovery, energy, individual, and other business provisions.
Biden has not specified how he would approach the Trump tariffs, though his advisers have said he will at least review them.
The Securing a Strong Retirement Act seeks to encourage retirement savings by simplifying and expanding the use of different types of retirement accounts.
The latest IRS data continues to illustrate that the net effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was to reduce effective tax rates across income groups. In 2019, the TCJA again expanded the use of several deductions and credits, made the standard deduction more favorable than itemizing, and lowered taxes for most taxpayers.
Increasing the corporate tax rate is often offered as a solution to income inequality because higher-income individuals tend to own more corporate shares than others and may bear the burden of a tax increase on corporate income.
If we consider Biden’s tax plan over the entire budget window (2021 to 2030) as a percentage of GDP—1.30 percent—it would rank as the 6th largest tax increase since the 1940s and and one of the largest tax increases not associated with wartime funding.
While there is still plenty of work to be done to get unemployed Americans back to work, the U.S. economy as a whole is now recovering strongly from the pandemic-induced economic downturn, outperforming forecasts from earlier in the year and outperforming most other developed countries.
House Republicans recently introduced HR 11, the Commitment to American GROWTH Act, outlining an alternative to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s tax vision. The proposal would address upcoming expirations of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and create or expand other tax provisions designed to boost domestic investment.
The pandemic precipitated the steepest decline in economic output and employment in recent history, which is leading to a drop in tax revenue. At the same time, the federal response to the crisis is producing a large increase in spending. This combination will cause the federal budget deficit to spike.
The House Republican Study Committee released a proposal, “Reclaiming the American Dream,” which includes 118 policy recommendations to address education, labor, and welfare policy with the aim of expanding opportunity, liberty, and free enterprise for all Americans.
Broad themes of the president’s agenda include providing tax relief to individuals and tax credits to businesses that engage in desired activities, while the status of expiring TCJA provisions and tariffs seems uncertain.