Kansans worry Trump tax plan repeats state's problems

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President Donald Trump's administration unveils a plan to reform the tax code.

The proposal would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 15 percent. It reduces the number of individual income tax brackets to three, 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, easing the tax burdens on most Americans, including the rich. It also doubles the standard deduction, essentially eliminating taxes on the first $24,000 of a couple's earnings, and calls for the elimination of most itemized tax deductions. It would leave in place popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

"The president's objective is creating economic growth," said Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, while making the announcement Wednesday.

The announcement is just an outline. The White House will present the final plans by August. Then Congress will be able to make any changes its members can agree on before deciding whether to send it back to the president to sign into law.

The president's team is still figuring out how to pay for the cuts without adding to the deficit. And that's a concern to those who study public finance as they look at the president's plan. Some told Eyewitness News they believe the plan, as it stands now, could add trillions of dollars to the country's debt.

"A lot of things need to be reviewed," said Ciaban Peterson Wednesday afternoon.

"It seems like it could be simplified," agreed Corie.

If there's one thing most Kansans, most Americans, can agree on it's that the U.S. tax code is a mess.

"Most people say the word tax code and your eyes glaze over," said Chris Borniger.

Where and how to change it is a presidential task. Wednesday President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary announced his plan. With cuts to corporate taxes and reducing the number of income tax brackets it looks quite familiar to many Kansans. The president's team says the tax cuts will pay for themselves by getting businesses to re-invest in the United States instead of spending money overseas.

"One can't help but notice the similarity between what the administration proposed today and Kansas," said Dr. Ken Kriz.

He teaches public finance at Wichita State University. He says what we've seen of the president's plan won't really pay for itself.

"There is no study out there that shows that tax cuts pay for themselves. It just... that's a unicorn," he said. "The most generous is that tax cuts through growth could pay for about one third of the revenue loss."

He says the proposed cuts to tax loopholes will help, but won't even the scales.

"This could have been revenue neutral. And so it could have been a good thing that would look more like President Reagan's 1986 tax reform act. This looks more like what happened in Kansas or what President Bush put in in 2000 which blew a huge hole in the deficit," Dr. Kriz explained.

That's something some Kansans are already worried about.
"Sometimes when we say we're going to make it simpler, we end up making it more complicated," said Corie.

When making Wednesday's announcement, Mnuchin said the president is concerned about the federal debt load but added this plan would lower the debt to gross domestic product ratio creating "massive amounts of revenues."