The fifth anniversary is traditionally the “wood” one. But this year, instead of getting another knick-knack, millions of Americans are celebrating a fifth anniversary with paper. Paper money, that is -- and more of it.
That’s because our country just marked the fifth year of the 2003 tax cuts.
Five years ago, Congress and the president agreed to accelerate the key provisions of the 2001 tax act that:
- Doubled the child tax credit to $1,000 per child.
- Fixed the “marriage penalty” -- that quirk of the tax code that forced couples filing jointly to pay more that singles filing separately.
- Expanded the earned-income credit for married joint filers.
- Created a 10 percent tax bracket for low-income taxpayers.
- Reduced marginal tax rates across the board.
The 2003 tax bill also slashed the top capital-gains tax rate from 20 to 15 percent and cut the tax rate on dividends from as high as 39.6 percent to 15 percent.
These cuts gave people an incentive to work, save and invest. The results have been impressive.
Although the media harps on our current economic woes, it’s important to note that with the tax cuts in place, the economy started growing almost immediately, adding jobs every month from August 2003 until January of this year. More than 8 million new jobs were created during those years, keeping unemployment low and providing steady growth (economic growth rates have more than doubled) for the overall economy.
Without the cuts, the White House estimates Americans would have paid an additional $1.3 trillion in taxes by the end of last year.
Ironically, these cuts also tilted our tax system so the rich shoulder a bigger share of the total tax burden. According to IRS statistics, the top 5 percent of income earners paid more than half (59.7 percent) of all income taxes in 2005. That’s the highest percentage since the government started keeping track in the mid-1980s.