The typical taxpayer saved hours filling out his or her federal returns thanks to the 2017 Republican tax reform law, according to a study released Monday.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the standard deduction from $6,350 in 2017 to $12,000 for the single filer, or from $12,700 to $24,000 for married filing jointly.
The deduction for head of household went from $9,350 to $18,000, MarketWatch reported.
The higher dollar amount meant millions of tax filers no longer needed to itemize their deductions, saving a total of 241 million hours in work preparing their 2018 taxes, according to a study by the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
The change in the tax law also resulted in a savings of $2.9 billion in out-of-pocket expenses for those employing tax preparers.
The NTUF noted that some filings will get more complicated, particularly for corporations with pass-through taxations, where they pay at the owner’s individual tax rate.
The study said “those businesses will likely end up paying less in taxes but will take them more time figuring out their forms. Overall, their time will increase by 52 million hours,” The Washington Times reported.
“I think that for a majority of Americans, they will be able to notice a smoother filing process,” Pete Sepp, president of the NTUF, told The Times.
“The business side of the tax relief and reform will remain a challenge to communicate to the broader public, but it’s vital,” he said.
Sepp pointed out on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Monday — the deadline for filing personal income tax returns — that the vast majority of Americans would have a lower tax burden as a result of the GOP tax law.
“Well, the predictions have been that about 80 percent of filers would experience some kind of tax reduction on their return, 5 percent an increase, the remainder roughly even,” he said. “It seems to be working out that way. We won’t know for sure until all the filing data is in.”
ICYMI: @NTU's Pete Sepp on 2018 tax returns,
"Well the predictions have been that about 80% of filers would experience some kind of tax reduction… 5% an increase, the remainder roughly even… we won't know for sure until all the filing data is in." pic.twitter.com/IIjCt7mncK
— Washington Journal (@cspanwj) April 15, 2019
In addition to nearly doubling the standard deduction, the new tax law also doubled the child income tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, which was aimed at giving tax relief to working families.
The law also lowered tax rates, which meant less pay was withheld from taxpayers’ checks. That also resulted in smaller refunds for millions of Americans because they were holding on to more of their money throughout the year.
— National Taxpayers Union (@NTU) April 16, 2019
Politico reported this aspect of the change in the tax code has been one of the hardest to communicate.
Democrats have sought to exploit it, arguing the GOP legislation benefitted the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
“A Feb. 11 tweet from 2020 presidential aspirant Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), charging that the refund decline resulted from a middle-class tax hike under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, drew more attention to the issue, prompting strong Republican pushback,” Politico reported.
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%.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 11, 2019
Politifact found Harris’ tweet to be “mostly false.”
“It’s entirely possible to get back a smaller refund even as you’re paying less in total taxes for the year, as a big majority of taxpayers are in 2018,” Politifact said.