GONZALEZ: The Threat Of Tax Hikes Just Became Very Real

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Julio Gonzalez Contributor
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After the Democrat victories in the Georgia Senate runoffs, moderate Members of Congress — from both parties — will control the fates of American taxpayers for the foreseeable future.

Joe Biden has pledged to repeal what he calls “Trump’s tax cuts,” but for that he needs Congress to pass legislation. If enough moderates agree to go along with the Democratic Party’s vocal left wing, it’s entirely possible that taxes could go up significantly on both individuals and businesses. If the moderates insist on bipartisanship and compromise, on the other hand, we’ll avoid the foreseeable disaster of a massive tax hike while the economy is still reeling from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

The business tax cuts included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 were designed to boost investment and entrepreneurship, and are paired with targeted policies such as revised depreciation tables for capital equipment and increased flexibility for sole proprietorships. Both policies will help greatly as our business community recovers from the COVID lockdowns.

Contrary to some of the left’s most common talking points, reversing the tax cuts would not just hurt “the rich.” It would raise tax rates and inflict economic pain on Americans of all income levels, and it would stifle entrepreneurship at a moment when we desperately need it. Over 80% of Americans would experience a tax increase, and some of the poorest Americans would be hit doubly hard.

The TCJA did more than just cut tax rates across the board. It also created a trailblazing new program called “Opportunity Zones,” which is designed to promote private-sector investments into economically disadvantaged communities by providing federal tax incentives for long-term capital projects that produce tangible benefits to the local community.

Thousands of Opportunity Zones have already been designated by governors in every state, many of them in long-neglected urban areas. Repealing the TCJA would mean taking away a projected $100 billion that would have created jobs, improved infrastructure and built more housing for the residents of those communities.

Fortunately, the massive individual income tax cuts included in the TCJA are not slated to expire until 2025, so the only way tax rates can go up before the next presidential election is through an act of Congress. Whether that’s possible depends on the moderates.

Even with their two victories in Georgia, the Democrats will control the Senate by the slimmest of margins — 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris to act as the tie-breaking vote. If even a single Democrat senator were to break with their party, one or more Republicans would have to cross the aisle in order for legislation to pass.

And that only applies to so-called “reconciliation” bills, which the Senate only gets one chance per year to use on tax policy. Under the ordinary process, there is still a 60-vote threshold to overcome the filibuster.

That doesn’t mean the Democrats won’t try to raise taxes, of course. Joe Biden promised to repeal the TCJA, and his party’s left wing will be determined to hold him to his word. Moderate Democrats — and moderate Republicans, too — will need to resist this effort, because now is the worst possible time to raise taxes on struggling Americans.

The Democrats’ victories in the Georgia runoffs significantly raised the threat of tax hikes in the coming years, but moderates in Congress have the power to stop them.

Julio Gonzalez founded Engineered Tax Services.