Trump tax ‘cut’ actually increased taxes for 10 million American families, report finds

A Center for American Progress estimate found that 10,260,263 families saw their taxes go up, thanks to the 2017 law.

President Donald Trump held an event in June celebrating the six-month anniversary of his tax bill.
President Donald Trump held an event in June celebrating the six-month anniversary of his tax bill. CREDIT: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump ran in 2016 promising that every American would receive a tax cut. But he has already raised taxes on an estimated 10 million families, according to a new analysis.

The Center for American Progress released its calculations on Friday, based on data from the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. It found that 10,260,263 American families saw a tax hike last year, thanks to the president’s 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. (ThinkProgress in an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)

“Everybody is getting a tax cut, especially the middle class,” Trump told CNN in May 2016.

As he signed the bill into law in December 2017, he claimed the bill would immediately benefit all Americans. “They’re going to start seeing the results in February. This bill means more take-home pay. It will be an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans,” he bragged. “I said I wanted to have it done before Christmas. We got it done.”


As taxpayers have been filing their 2018 taxes in recent weeks, many have found that they are not getting the refunds they have in the past or even owe the federal government money. The bill’s supporters have dismissed these concerns, suggesting that the higher take home pay thanks to the bill means people were not having as much excessive withholding — a feature, not a flaw.

But these numbers reveal that for millions of Americans, it is not just a misconception; their taxes actually did go up thanks to the law. Much of this had to do with the elimination of personal and dependent exemptions, caps on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions, and the termination of the employee business expenses deduction. The SALT deduction cap especially punished families in states like California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, which rely on higher revenues and — likely not coincidentally —  voted in large numbers for Trump’s opponent in 2016. An estimated 1,736,118 Californians and 1,211,721 New Yorkers saw tax increases, while just 624,481 Texans saw increases.

Steve Wamhoff, who authored the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s study, told ThinkProgress that the 10 million estimate is correct. “Most families did receive a tax cut from the Trump tax law,” he observed. “The real problem is that vast majority of the tax cuts went to people who do not need help. Half the tax cuts went to the richest five percent, which about a quarter going to the richest one percent. Those among the top five percent got bigger tax cuts not just in dollar terms but even when measured as a share of their total income.”