See how the federal tax cut impacted you. Then remember that Gov. Dayton’s veto likely means your taxes going up anyway
The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed in December, was the most comprehensive reform of the federal tax code since 1986. It reduced taxes for the vast majority of Americans but by how much depends on where you live.
To help you get some idea of how the measure impacted you, the Tax Foundation has launched a new interactive map that allows users to see average 2018 tax cuts in their congressional district and across the country.
Or, rather, that is what you would you would have saved. The big challenge in the last legislative session was Tax Conformity. This meant bringing the Minnesota’s state tax code into line with the federal one. A bill was eventually passed which accomplished this. And Gov. Dayton vetoed it. He argued that that the bill “put powerful special interests, multinational corporations, and the rich ahead of Minnesota school kids and families.”
As I wrote, looking at the bill, the governor’s claim was absurd.
On the corporate side, the bill called for reducing the corporate income tax rate from 9.8 percent to 9.65 percent immediately and then to 9.1 percent in 2020. Minnesota would have gone from having the third-highest rate of corporate income tax in the United States to having the sixth-highest.
The bill also would have repealed the corporate alternative minimum tax. Minnesota is one of only eight states to have this. It does little except add unnecessary complexity to the tax code. When the Department of Revenue last published a corporate income tax bulletin about a decade ago, it estimated that the corporate alternative minimum tax brought in just 1 percent of state corporate income tax revenue. Indeed, this sensible measure was originally proposed by a DFL senator, Ann Rest.
The bill also would have conformed Minnesota’s tax code to the increased Section 179 federal expensing amounts. This was to allow businesses to deduct the full prices of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year from their gross income, reducing their tax liability. It would have served as an incentive for businesses to buy equipment and invest. This raises capital per worker, worker productivity, and wages.
And just because it is called the “corporate” income tax doesn’t mean corporations pay it. After all, corporations don’t really exist; they are just contractual relationships between individuals. It is these individuals who bear the burden of the so-called “corporate” tax. The workers bear it in the shape of lower wages, and the owners — including millions of middle-class Americans with 401ks — see it in the lower returns on their investments.
On the individual side, the bill would have reduced the two lowest state income tax rates, 5.35 percent and 7.05 percent, to 5.3 percent and 6.95 percent immediately and to 5.25 percent and 6.85 percent in 2020. After these cuts, Minnesota’s lowest rate of income tax — which is currently higher than the top rate in 23 states — was to be higher than the top rate in 22 states. The bill left completely untouched the top rate of income tax, the fourth-highest in America.
So, next year Minnesotans will have to fill out a 2018 federal income tax form, a Minnesota-only tax form based on the old federal tax code, and a Minnesota tax form. According to economist John Spry, the situation is so complex that, “The Minnesota Department of Revenue has not yet counted how many lines would be added to our tax forms.” An estimated 800,000 Minnesotans are expected to end up paying up to $850 million in extra taxes.
Still, you can always look at the Tax Foundation calculator and think about what might have been.
John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.