What's wrong with the Trump tax plan
I believe that Republican ideas are usually better than Democrats' ideas when it comes to how to provide for public needs. I am a Lincoln Republican, believing in government where most effective and only where needed. Individual liberty and enterprise are essential to the American way of life and to society's prosperity. Most police and local needs are better served by State and local government than an omnipresent federal bureaucracy.
After listening and reading and checking my calculations, I am convinced that the people that came up with and sold Donald Trump on his "biggest tax cut ever" are political rubes or charlatans. They are not Lincoln Republicans, for sure. The Trump plan would remove the deduction of state and local taxes for people who itemize deductions. I submit that such a move is utterly misguided and that it should be seen as a throwback the days of debtors' prisons. It taxes money we already paid in taxes. I think it can seriously be argued that it is unconstitutional. It is monumentally unfair. It will have grave consequences, some of which are not even fully foreseeable.
If you tax someone on money he has to pay a state or local government, you are asking for a payment of tax on the very tax money unavoidably and by law taxpayers paid for state and local government services as though it is still in their pockets. The taxpayer does not have that money anymore. Whether it went for schools, sewers, roads, garbage collection, state welfare services, or police will not change the fact that to tax the part of an American's income paid to states or localities imposes a tax on federalism itself, the system guaranteed by our Constitution. It is a penalty on a citizen for his choice of state in which to reside. Whether it is assessed by property value or income, it is all the same.
Not allowing respect for the role of state government is antithetical to what the Republican Party is supposed to stand for. Eliminating the state tax deduction in federal law will incentivize centralizing and expanding national government and reducing local and state government costs and services. It is utterly unfair to the individual affected. Many less than top-bracket persons will wind up owing more than under present law, because Mr. Trump's increased standard deduction and slight tax rate adjustment do not make up for all that you owe state and local government – but my point is that it is against fundamental principles even if adjusted not to hurt you today.
Too few are the Republican representatives and senators pointing out to the administration that this tax on money you must pay Caesar's little brother will actually cause many people (my wife and me included) to pay higher taxes than ever before. Do even they understand the principles of our constitutional system at stake here? I think every single Republican and every Democrat with traditional views of state-federal relations should do so.
Donald Trump is a patriotic American. But his showmanship and determination to accomplish something ought not mesmerize and silence representatives of the people in Congress who were sent there to think and act thoughtfully. On this issue of taxing state and local taxes, neither the emperor of fairy tales nor the president's plan to tax your taxes has any clothes.
Someone needs to tell him. The very concept is, dare I say, un-American, because it disrespects our federal system and penalizes us for owing and paying the very money that funds the backbone of our nation.
The author has practiced law for many years in Chicago. He is a registered Republican. This expression of opinion is his alone and has nothing to do with clients or cases.