Poor People Really Get Screwed By Ben Carson’s Tax Plan

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Back in the day—meaning approximately 2008 or so—Republican presidential candidates made a big mistake. They released their tax plans without bothering to figure out anything other than the average tax cut each one provided. The frequent result was that taxes went up on the poorest people and down on the richest. That’s bad optics.

By 2012 they’d all wised up. Their tax cuts might be bigger for the rich, but they made sure everyone got a cut.

When I was looking at Ben Carson’s plan last night, I realized that the poor guy hadn’t been paying attention. He figured that by setting a zero percent tax rate on income up to $36,000, he’d be guaranteeing that the poor would get a tax cut. Unfortunately, his actual knowledge of the tax code is so shallow that he didn’t realize what he meant when he said his plan eliminated all credits and deductions. That means he’s getting rid of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which often amounts to a negative tax rate for the poor. In other words, paying $0 is a tax increase for a lot of them. Citizens for Tax Justice provides the details:

Under Carson’s plan, the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers would receive an average annual tax increase of $792 and the second 20 percent would get an average annual tax increase of $447, while the top one percent would receive an average annual tax cut of $348,434. The main reason Carson’s plan would increase taxes on low-income families is that it would eliminate all tax credits, including the highly effective Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

There’s still no reason to care about this since Carson is obviously doomed to return to the book promotion racket at this point. Still, just for the record, I figure this deserves a chart to memorialize it for posterity. So here it is.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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