One picture explains the US Republicans' tax cut -- and a major problem with it

  • House Republicans voted to approve the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday.
  • It’s the first step toward the tax reform plan President Donald Trump has said he wants on his desk by Christmas.
  • Before the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasised how middle-class Americans will benefit from the plan.
  • It’s true that most Americans will see a tax cut if the plan passes, but it’s not as sweeping as they make it sound.

House Republicans just passed their massive tax bill.

Before the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasised how middle class Americans will benefit from tax reform.

This time, he even bought a prop.

Ryan pointed to a white sign, with “$US1,182” written in large blue numbers. That amount has been a rallying cry used by Republicans since the 429-page “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” was first introduced two weeks ago.

A typical family of four with household income of $US59,000 will save $US1,182 if Trump’s tax plan becomes law. That sounds great, right?

Here’s the problem: It may be a tax cut, but it’s not exactly sweeping.

It breaks down to less than $US100 a month for a hard-working, middle-class family. That’s not enough for a home renovation or a vacation, let alone enough to make up for the large retirement savings gap in the US.

Meanwhile, wealthy Americans, including Trump himself, stand to benefit handsomely from the tax proposal, thanks to provisions eliminating the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), among others.

During a press conference last week, Ryan said, “This is about actually improving people’s lives and making a positive difference.”

We previously calculated how Trump’s tax plan could affect take-home pay for a single, childless taxpayer who claims the standard deduction. We also calculated how Trump’s tax plan could affect a family of four with two kids under 17.

It’s true that most Americans will see their take-home pay increase if Republicans succeed in overhauling the US tax code. But the bigger question is whether $US1,182 is enough to make a difference in their financial security.

As a certified financial planner who works with many middle-class Americans, I have my doubts.

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