Breakdown of the Tax Bracket changes from the GOP House Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

[EDIT FROM MIKE 2/20/2018: This article was an analysis of the initial proposal for a tax reform plan that passed in late 2017. Some or all of this information may be outdated at the time of reading, but remains here for historical purposes.]

Quick version: the tax reform plan that purports to cut taxes for the middle class may actually cause many middle class taxpayers to see an increase in taxable income and possibly even up to a 10% tax rate jump.

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This morning the House GOP announced its long-awaited tax reform plan – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It includes major tax code changes, including a complete overhaul of the tax brackets. The plan would create four tax ranges, down from the current seven brackets.

In addition, the TCJA would double the standard deduction, removing about $6,000 of taxable income from individuals and about $11,500 from married couples filing jointly.

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A Concern about the Proposed American Health Care Act (Editorial)

Earlier this week in a rally in Nashville, President Trump reiterated a plea he has made throughout his push for the new health care law: “Insurers are fleeing, and nobody will have insurance.” I am concerned that this stance is dangerously overstated as a good reason to dismantle our current health insurance system.

The “fleeing” refers only to some insurance companies no longer offering specialized insurance plans on the state-run Exchanges (the ones that come with subsidies for lower-income folks). If a person earns too much to receive a tax subsidy, which is the majority of Americans, he or she can go directly to an insurance carrier and buy a plan during open enrollment. Outside of the Exchanges, there are many plan and carrier options everywhere.

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What’s Happening to the Affordable Care Act?

Confusion. Frustration. Fear. We’re all feeling something towards the uncertainty surrounding health insurance right now. Let me try to relieve some of it by explaining what has happened and how we should respond.


WHAT WE KNOW

With the Affordable Care Act currently in a state of flux, we must ground ourselves with facts. Here’s what we know for sure right now:

  1. The ACA is a law passed by Congress. Only Congress has the power to change a law.
  1. There were many regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) over the past five years to support portions of the ACA law (ex. specifying the Essential Health Benefits that all plans must cover). These rules can change, but only through a fairly long and formal rulemaking process.
  1. A small army of legal organizations are ready to file lawsuits to stop any action by the President, Congress, or any other official that oversteps their legal authority. Government officials and health insurers cannot ignore current, active law.
  1. President Trump issued an executive order last weekend (Jan 21st) ordering all federal agencies to “take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the [Affordable Care] Act.” While there is little actual functional value to the executive order (see #1 and #2 above), it reinforces the President’s stance against the ACA and asks Executive Branch employees to work towards limited the law’s effect. It doesn’t actually do anything on its own. At most, the IRS director could use it as reason to not levy the tax penalty on uninsured individuals.

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NLRB: NLRA Covers Graduate Assistants at Private Universities

In a HUGE change of labor law jurisprudence, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced its ruling today in Columbia University that graduate students at private colleges and universities are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This means that graduate students working at their attending college as a teaching or research assistant are considered employees of that institution under the NLRA, and thus can form a union and have collective bargaining rights.

columbia uThis decision is a change from the previous rule on this issue the Board set forth in Brown University in 2004 (342 NLRB 483). In Brown, the Board ruled that graduate assistants were primarily students, and thus not engaged in an “economic relationship” with their institutions. In Columbia University, the NLRB looked at the “contemporary academic reality” of the role graduate assistants play at colleges and universities, and decided that they were in fact employees, and thus covered by the law.

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