Home / World News / Tax bill simplifies filing for some but complicates it for others — and don’t count on that postcard – The Denver Post

Tax bill simplifies filing for some but complicates it for others — and don’t count on that postcard – The Denver Post

By Jim Puzzanghera

A priority of the Republicans’ tax overhaul was simplification, and they drove home the point this fall with an omnipresent prop: a red-white-and-blue postcard.

“We’re making things so simple that you can do your taxes on a form the size of a postcard,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said last month, pulling one from his jacket pocket as he and Republican leaders unveiled their bill.

They gave a couple of the cards to President Trump at a White House meeting a few hours later and flashed them often during news conferences and TV interviews in the coming days.

But as the tax legislation worked its way through Congress and now heads to Trump’s desk, that postcard has largely disappeared — it was nowhere to be seen at Wednesday’s White House celebration — as have many of the changes that were designed to simplify the federal tax code.

Deductions that House Republicans planned to eliminate were added back into the bill. A plan to reduce the seven existing tax brackets to four was abandoned. The complicated alternative minimum tax for individuals, which the House bill proposed to axe, was kept in place.

And in the case of so-called pass-through businesses, which pay taxes through the individual code, the overhaul adds new complexities in how they classify their income.

“This is not about simplification,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said this week in urging his colleagues to vote down the nearly 11,000-page bill and accompanying report. “It was going to be on a postcard. You are going to need to carry a billboard around with you to understand what is in this actual bill.”

Experts said that the new tax code won’t be much different than the existing code.

“For some taxpayers it will be a little simpler, for some it will be more complex, but overall it will be familiar and folks won’t think of it as some drastic change,” said Joseph Rosenberg, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “On net, it’s not going to be any simpler.”

The biggest simplification is a nearly doubling of the standard deduction — to $12,000 from $6,350 for individuals, and to $24,000 from $12,700 for couples. That will sharply increase the number of Americans who do not need to itemize because the value of their total deductions won’t exceed the new standard deduction.

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