By Col. Paul Cook (Ret.) U.S. Congressman, 8th Congressional District
With most Americans having filed their 2017 tax returns, it’s important to call attention to the historic tax reform legislation that’s benefiting Americans on their 2018 taxes. Passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is working to provide a fairer, simpler, pro-family tax code, and it’s giving more money back to taxpayers and spurring economic growth.
Big-government politicians and slanted news outlets have sought to mischaracterize the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as an attack on the middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a result of lowered tax rates for businesses, already more than four million Americans have received bonuses, with many companies increasing salaries and benefits for their employees.
The new tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction – from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. With the expanded standard deduction alone, over 91% of taxpayers in my district will get a better deal under this new law by taking the standard deduction rather than itemizing. Tax reform also will provide taxpayers with lower individual tax rates, particularly low-and middle-income Americans, and it doubles the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. In total, the average American household will save approximately $2,000 a year.
It’s also important to note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act preserves the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and maintains the home mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes up to $500,000. This will continue providing tax relief to current and aspiring homeowners. Additionally, it allows people to write off the cost of state and local property taxes up to $10,000.
In addition to the benefits the tax law provides directly to individuals and families, it also reduces taxes on both large and small businesses, setting the stage for continued economic growth. At 35%, our corporate tax rate has been among the highest in the world, making it difficult for businesses to be competitive and giving them every reason to move operations overseas. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowers the corporate tax rate to 21% – still higher than average in the industrialized world, but low enough to make us competitive. The lowered rate will free up businesses to continue creating American jobs, paying more to their workers, and reinvesting here at home.
Locally, the numbers for our region’s labor force continue to move in a positive direction. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, local unemployment is down to 4.5%. Moreover, the fastest growing job sector is the building trades, with a total of 14,300 new construction jobs added last year. I’m optimistic that the regional economy is primed to continue to experience growth as we continue to see the benefits from tax reform and as Congress and the administration continue to work together to reduce burdensome federal regulations.