Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Eliminates Tax Refunds for Many

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was presented, the Trump administration promoted it with the promise that “the average family (would) get a $4,000 raise.” After the TCJA was passed, many families actually did see a small increase in the amount in their paychecks during the year. Now that it’s tax season, however, many of those people are surprised to find that instead of the tax refunds they’re used to receiving, they owe money to the IRS. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they feel, was a lie.

With the TCJA, the IRS made changes to its tax withholding tables. As a result, most taxpayers had fewer withholdings in 2018 than they did in previous years, but they were unaware of it. They are also allowed fewer itemized deductions such as business mileage, some medical expenses, and mortgage interest this year than they could in past years. In many cases, taxpayers’ withholdings decreased by more than the actual taxes they owed, hence the “raise” many people saw in their paychecks during the year.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report explained during the summer what would happen with people’s taxes, advising people to check their withholding status. But the average person doesn’t regularly read GAO reports.

During the year, then, with a bit more in their paychecks, Trump’s base were fans of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, happy to cite it as evidence that their president had their backs. One has to wonder, however, if this false “raise,” resulting as it did from reducing withholdings by a little too much, was engineered with the midterms in mind.

Many people have come to rely on their income tax refunds to pay off bills, purchase needed items, or meet other expenses. As they are realizing the real impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however, they’re tweeting out their anger.

Dee Nelson (Dee Nelson (@deeebeeezz) tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump just did my taxes and thanks for increasing mine!! No change in income and got back $400 less than last year. That campaign promise was one of the only two reasons I voted for you. Rethinking that decision now.”

The Trump administration and the Treasury maintain that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will balance out the way taxes should be paid. Since in the past, about 75 percent of American taxpayers received refunds, they are quick to point out that the withholding system was flawed, and that fewer people should be getting refunds because it means that too much was withheld during the year.

Though this may be true, two other things are also true: Since so many taxpayers, including many who voted for Trump because of his promised tax cuts, feel they’ve been deceived, perhaps the Trump administration could been more clear about the possible consequences to the average American at tax time. It’s also true, though, that, over time, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will in fact raise taxes for many middle-class and working class tax payers.

Tips for filing tax returns under new tax code | CNBC [2019-01-25]

Will Trump’s tax reform lose popularity after Americans file this tax season? | Fox Business [2019-01-30]

Jeff Sessions’ Resignation: “Not Unexpected”

Jeff Sessions has resigned as U.S. Attorney General, at the request of Donald Trump, effective November 7, 2018. As head of the Justice Department, Sessions has been seen as an impediment to Trump’s attempts to end the Justice Department’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. Sessions took continual public criticism from Trump, and many have felt it was just a matter of time before Sessions would be gone – either by firing or by resignation.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told Vox magazine, “This was not unexpected. Sessions tolerated more abuse from Trump than any Cabinet member should have to endure. Yet, he soldiered on out of a sense of duty.”

Trump’s Ongoing Scorn of Sessions

Trump’s ongoing public scorn of Jeff Sessions largely stems from Sessions’ recusing himself from the Trump-Russia investigation, due to his own associations with Moscow. It should be noted that several Former Justice Department officials praised Sessions at the time for doing so.

“I’m confident I made the right decision,” Sessions told Tucker Carlson of Fox News. “The decision is consistent with the rule of law. And an attorney general who doesn’t follow the law is not very effective in leading the Department of Justice.”

Trump, however, has publicly derided Jeff Sessions for his recusal from the probe. Trump has told Fox News. “I put in an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department. Even my enemies say that ‘Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in.’”

Trump told the New York Times, “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.”

Trump’s Attempts to Force Sessions’ Resignation

Following Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Trump-Russia probe, special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation. Mueller’s appointment has led to multiple indictments of Trump cronies, and this has fueled Donald Trump’s ire at Jeff Sessions, too, for not preventing Mueller’s actions.

Trump’s apparent attempts in 2017 via Twitter taunts to force Jeff Sessions to resign are under investigation by Robert Mueller as a possible effort to obstruct the Russia investigation. If these allegations are found to be true, Trump could face criminal charges.

Removal of Barriers to Squelching the Trump-Russia Probe

Jeff Sessions’ resignation removes the barrier to eliminating Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the only one with the power to fire Robert Mueller. If Rosenstein were removed, Trump could order his replacement to fire Mueller, thus possibly ending the Russia investigation.

Jeff Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump during his run for the presidency. He may also be Donald Trump’s biggest and most consistent promoter of Trump’s agenda. Sessions’ forced resignation makes it apparent that, even greater than a desire for loyalty is Donald Trump’s desire to squelch the Trump-Russia probe.

Trey Gowdy: Sessions was a ‘dead man walking’ for months | Fox News [2018-11-07]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired | CNN [2018-11-07]