California Senator Kamala Harris has received lustrous press coverage since announcing her presidential bid last month.
But yesterday the Washington Post fact-checker zinged her for a mendacious tweet claiming the 2017 Trump tax cuts actually raised taxes on the middle class to benefit the wealthy.
Post scribe Glenn Kessler stung Harris with four Pinocchios for her Monday tweet citing lower tax refund checks to argue the middle class now had a higher tax liability under the law.
She wrote that, “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”
The IRS did just report that tax refunds under the 2017 law this year are down an average of $170. This is due to the change in withholding tables—the amount in taxes deducted from each paycheck—under the law. But Harris used that as a bait and switch to make the overall rates sound higher for the middle class as a result.
As Kessler notes lower tax refunds can’t be equated with a higher tax bill overall and the amount middle class people pay under the Trump legislation almost uniformly decreased under the legislation.
“Boy, talk about a non sequitur”–her reference to the lower refunds–”that turns out to be nonsensical and misleading.”
This is because “the size of the tax refund has no bearing on whether a person’s taxes rose or fell. A person might end up giving less of their income to the IRS — and still end up with a smaller tax refund.”
And what about Harris’ claim that the “President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%?”
Actually, almost all middle-income earners saw taxes go down under the legislation so the middle class are actually not subsidizing the new lower rates for the rich.
Citing studies by the congressional Joint Tax Committee and two think tank’s Tax Policy Center Kessler said tax reductions for 91% of middle-income earners are “averaging about $1,090, with 7.3 percent facing a tax increase averaging about $910.”
So the tax legislation meant lower rates for almost the entire middle-class, not raises on them as Harris clearly asserted.
But Harris spokesman Ian Sams told Kessler that Harris was actually referring to the “long-term effect” of the tax cuts.
In other words, the Senator stands by what she meant to say.
Kessler concludes that Harris made “it appear as though the smaller tax refunds were evidence of a tax hike on the middle class. In reality, the size of a tax refund reflects nothing about the size of a tax cut or tax increase — and at least in 2018, the vast majority of middle-class Americans can expect to pay less in taxes as a result of the Trump tax law.”
Sams did not reply to a request from the California Globe for comment about the rating.
Meanwhile, Harris’s tweet on Tuesday drew a belligerent response from Donald Trump, Jr., that mirrored Kessler’s critique.
The President’s son snapped at her, “Of course refunds are down” because Americans “are paying less in taxes and the code is simplified. A refund means you overpaid and got money back. When you pay less the refund will be less.”
“Do you really not understand that?”
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