ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
This evening, Republican lawmakers released the final version of tax legislation that’s been making its way through Congress for the past several weeks.
NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell has been sorting through the bill, which is more than 500 pages long, and she’s with us now. Hiya.
KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi.
SIEGEL: Looking over where things have landed, how is this bill going to impact taxpayers?
SNELL: Well, this is a lot to absorb, so let’s kind of walk through some of the big themes. Everyone’s taxes are a little bit different, but overall we know that first, if you’re a married couple making over $600,000, you’ll probably benefit because for the next eight years you’re going to see your rates cut.
Another group that’ll likely benefit are families with many children. Those families will likely see a benefit because the child tax credit is expanding to $2,000, and more of that will be refundable. So if you’re a lower-income family, working family, you get to see more of that. And students are being protected in ways that they were not under the House bill. So students will be able to continue deducting student loans. If you could write it off last year, you’ll be able to write it off next year, too. And grad student tuition, if you have your tuition waived, that won’t be taxed as income.
SIEGEL: So those are people who will benefit from this. How is this going to get paid for?
SNELL: Well, (laughter) to start with, the congressional scorekeepers have said that this is going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. Also, if you’re a professional living in a big city and you’re making enough to buy a house, you’re probably going to have a higher tax under this bill. That’s because a couple of key benefits are capped. If you have a mortgage, a new mortgage starting after the 1st of this year valued over $750,000, you won’t be able to deduct the mortgage interest. And there’s going to be a new $10,000 cap on state and local deductions that most people write off.
SIEGEL: What about businesses, which have been expected to get most of the benefits from this bill?
SNELL: Sure. There’s no real surprise there. We’ve known for some time that they were looking at a 20 percent – 21 percent corporate rate. It will be set at 21 percent under this bill. There won’t be an alternative minimum tax for corporations anymore, and that will help a lot of them. As for those smaller businesses and even large businesses that pay on the individual side, it’s structured to keep their rate low, below 30 percent. But that’s still not as good as what Senator Ron Johnson was pushing for. But it’s definitely better than current law.
SIEGEL: But even though there were some Republican senators who said they had their doubts about this, today everybody sounded very optimistic in the Republican Party.
SNELL: Yeah, it looks like things are heading towards fairly easy passage. We heard from Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, who had been pushing for that child tax credit we talked about earlier. He says he’s satisfied with what is being done here in this bill. And Senator Bob Corker, who was worried about the deficit, isn’t worried about that $1.5 trillion. He thinks the economy will grow enough to make sure that it’s covered. So the plan is to try to get this passed by midweek and have President Trump sign it well before the Christmas deadline that he himself set.
SIEGEL: NPR’s Kelsey Snell, thanks.
SNELL: Thank you.
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