California Senator and left-wing presidential candidate Kamala Harris is lying about the new tax law, which she -- and every Democrat -- voted against in 2017. We recently highlighted new polling showing tax reform's popularity on the rise, presumably as many Americans discover that their tax rates went down in 2018. The very large majority of US taxpayers do not itemize deductions, opting for the straightforward standard deduction. The GOP-passed law doubled the standard deduction, meaning that most people can exempt a much larger chunk of their income from taxation -- $12,000 for individuals, $24,000 for couples, and $18,000 for heads of household. With these more generous numbers in place, an estimated 90 percent of Americans are expected to select the standard deduction this year. Eager to continue their campaign of misinformation and lies against a law that's benefitting the overwhelming majority of citizens, Democrats are seizing on another extremely misleading talking point in order to confuse voters and muddy the waters:
The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 11, 2019
What's wrong with this tweet? Basically everything. First of all, and least importantly, the sample size on which she's basing her assertion is very small, coming from a tiny sliver of filings from the very beginning of tax season. More importantly, the size of someone's tax refund is not at all reflective of whether they paid more or less in taxes than the previous year. Philip Klein unpacks the dishonesty:
To be clear, the level of people's tax refunds has absolutely nothing to do with their overall tax burden, which will be lower for nearly every taxpayer as a result of the enacted tax changes. Federal taxes get withheld from paychecks throughout the year, and then by the following April, taxpayers file and they have to pay the balance if they under-withheld in the previous year, or they are issued a refund if they overpaid. Thanks to marketing from tax preparation companies promising big refunds, Americans have come to view refunds as some sort of bonus they receive every April. A larger refund just means that they gave an interest free loan to the federal government by overpaying the previous year. That early data, which could change between now and April, show that on average people are receiving lower refunds, is merely a reflection of the fact that money was more accurately deducted from their paychecks throughout the year.
Harris, who may be humiliatingly unprepared to discuss certain policies, is not a stupid woman. She's paid taxes her entire life. She knows exactly what she's claiming, and why it's false. But she's saying it anyway. She's prematurely using very early data that may or may not make a point about withholding rates (most people didn't update their paperwork on this front), and twisting it into "proof" that that new law is a "middle-class tax hike." It is nothing of the sort, as the data has shown. Klein helpfully notes some of the key numbers while fact-checking Harris, whose bogus message is also being amplified by misleading media headlines:
A Tax Policy Center analysis, which Democrats loved to cite for other reasons throughout the tax debate, found that 80 percent of taxpayers would receive a cut in 2018, compared with just 5 percent who would see their taxes increase. The remainder would see virtually no change. In other words, 95 percent of Americans will have either paid lower taxes in 2018, or about the same amount of taxes. Among taxpayers in the middle-fifth income group, 91 percent would pay an average of $1,090 less in taxes.
Again, that information comes via the left-leaning Tax Policy Center. Only five percent of all filers will shoulder a higher tax burden for 2018, the disproportionate majority of whom are wealthy earners living in high-tax blue states. Fully eight in ten Americans got a cut -- including 91 percent of the middle class, the very group Harris claims is being slapped with a tax hike. She's peddling the opposite of the truth (also, be on the lookout for this lie about supposed "middle class tax increases" in the law). Rich Lowry's observation about the 2020 Democratic liar-in-chief sweepstakes is spot on:
Kamala Harris is taking an early lead in the most dishonest Democratic tweeter primary; other candidates will have to work hard to catch up https://t.co/PGQzPdoScj— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) February 12, 2019
And he wasn't even referring to her amusing 'truthiness' about her first time smoking pot, a story she told with all the forced glee of someone desperate to signal "I'm not a cop!" to a suspicious left-wing base. The fact that her fable was literally impossible matters not; it was morally true in her mind, no doubt. I'll leave you with this:
BILL CLINTON: I smoked, but I did not inhale— Sweet Meteor O'Death (@smod4real) February 12, 2019
BUSH 43: When I was young & irresponsible, I was young & irresponsible
HARRIS: I remember it clearly. It was a cold snowy morning, the day after the moon landing, & I was in my dorm listening to Kanye. That’s when I did a marijuana
UPDATE - Harris' lie earns Four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. It's ham-fisted garbage specficially designed to confuse people into thinking they're in worse financial shape than they are.