Economy: To hear some political pundits speak, you’d think that tax cuts now being proposed in both the House and the Senate will only benefit “the rich.” In fact, the economic benefits will be broad and deep.
The proposed Tax Cut and Jobs Act now making its way through both houses of Congress will slash taxes by some $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
How much bang for the buck does that give? Quite a lot, according to a new Heritage Foundation forecast.”The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower the cost of capital and increase after-tax wages, which would increase the capital stock and number of hours worked, both of which would cause an increase in GDP,” wrote Parker Sheppard and David Burton at the Daily Signal website.
For instance, investment in capital equipment is forecast to grow 4.6% in the Senate bill, 4.9% in the House bill. (They’re different because the Senate and House tax-cut plans, while similar, are not yet identical).
Capital investment in structures — factory buildings, mini-malls, homes, warehouses and the like — would rise 9.1% (House bill) to 10.9% (Senate bill). Hours worked, a key component of GDP, grows by 0.7% under either plan.
Actual GDP will by permanently higher by anywhere from 2.6% (House) to 2.8% (Senate). The point is, both bills, though widely criticized and certainly not perfect, are economic-growth bills. They will expand the economy, and make a big difference for average households.
How big a difference? Annual GDP per household will be permanently higher by an inflation adjusted $4,098 under the House bill, and $4,403 under the Senate bill. These are significant boosts to household incomes after nearly two decades of stagnation in median real incomes, and would go a long way toward ending the early 21st century economic malaise that began after the dot-com boom went bust.
By the way, these forecasts weren’t an act of partisan accounting; Heritage’s calculations are based on numbers from a highly-respected and widely-used economic model.
The point is, these tax cuts will bring about broad-based economic gains that will affect Americans across the board. First Trust Advisors economist Brian Wesbury on Friday likened the political process of tax reform to sausage making. Yet, he noted, “the ingredients in the final bill — be it the House or Senate version — will boost economic growth and corporate profits.”
We would add, this latest study is also in line with the findings of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation and the Council of Economic Advisers. The point is, the magic missing from our economy in recent years has been growth. Average 2% GDP growth over the past decade is substandard. Restoring our historic path of 3% growth is within reach.
The White House
CEA Report: The Growth Effects of Corporate Tax Reform and Implications for Wages
Today, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the relationship between the corporate tax rate and GDP growth. Please see below for the executive summary and read the full report here.
The recent disconnect between America’s real wages and America’s corporate profits is an aberration that reflects the disappointing state of capital accumulation. The pace of capital services growth in the United States slowed substantially during the current business cycle expansion through 2016, with the centered 5-year moving average contribution of capital deepening to labor productivity dropping below zero in 2012 for the first time in modern history. Workers have not seen real wage increases because firms have been discouraged from investing in America by outdated tax policy and heavy regulation.
This is the second in a series of papers from the Council of Economic Advisers that explores the impact of two key elements of business tax reform in the Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code (hereafter, the “Unified Framework”) – a reduction in the statutory Federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent and the introduction of immediate full expensing of non-structure investments – on American workers. In the first paper we explored the impact on wages through application of the findings in a literature that directly connects these corporate tax policies to wage growth. In this paper, we review literatures linking the tax changes to capital formation and to economic growth. While a full estimate of the growth impact of the Unified Framework must await the details of the complete plan, we demonstrate below that the corporate tax side alone will have substantial effects on gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Our findings indicate that the business side of the Unified Framework would increase GDP by between 3 and 5 percent over the baseline long-run projection. The GDP effects we estimate are growth impacts from corporate tax reform alone. The literature and models vary as to the timeframe over which these benefits could be realized; some have the effects as soon as 3 to 5 years, others find it could take at least double that time. There will be additional GDP effects from reforms to individual income and pass-through business taxes, which we have not modeled, as well as growth from regulatory reform (see CEA paper of October 2, 2017: The Growth Potential of Deregulation) and an infrastructure package.
We also study the impact of this growth on average household income and again find that the average household would, conservatively, realize an increase in wage and salary income of $4,000. Additional elements of the Unified Framework, including changes to individual income tax rates, may deliver further increases to household income, combatting a longer-term stagnation.
These estimated boosts to GDP from corporate rate reductions are consistent with estimates from other studies. An evaluation of the Unified Framework by Benzell, Kotlikoff, and Lagarda (2017) similarly estimates a long-run boost to GDP of 3 to 5 percent. Estimates from the Tax Foundation imply a long-run GDP boost of 3.1 percent from corporate rate reductions alone, 3.0 percent from full expensing, and 4.5 percent from both reforms implemented jointly (Tax Foundation, 2017). Previous proposals to reduce the corporate tax rate, such as the “Growth and Investment Tax Plan,” were estimated to increase long-run output by 4.8 percent (The President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, 2005).
The White House
President Donald J. Trump Fights for Higher Wages for Hardworking Americans
“Lower taxes on American business means higher wages for American workers, and it means more products made right here in the USA.” – President Donald J. Trump
PAY RAISE FOR AMERICANS: The tax relief and tax cuts supported by President Donald J. Trump will boost wages for hardworking Americans.
• The average American household income could increase between $4,000 and $9,000 a year in wages and salary alone by cutting the Federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, according to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA).
o Developed countries with the low corporate tax rates have seen significantly higher wage growth compared with developed countries with higher rates.
o Reducing corporate tax rates will raise wages for workers of all skill levels.
• Wages and corporate profits used to grow at nearly the same rate, but that is no longer the case. In the last eight years, wage growth has stagnated while corporate profits increased by an average of 11 percent per year, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Wage growth has failed to keep pace with corporate profits as corporate tax rates in the United States have become uncompetitive.
o More than 70 percent of the corporate tax burden falls on Americans workers, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.
INVESTING IN AMERICAN JOBS: The Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code supported by President Trump will end the “offshoring model” as companies will bring profits back and invest in American workers.
• In 2016, a Federal corporate tax rate of 20 percent could have brought more than $140 billion in corporate profits back to America, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Those profits could have helped boost the incomes of U.S. households.
• Our current uncompetitive corporate tax rate encourages U.S. firms to keep profits offshore.
o The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate among the 35 industrialized Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to the OECD.
o The U.S. corporate tax rate has been higher than the OECD average for almost 20 years.
• Last year, more than 70 percent of foreign profits earned by U.S. firms were kept offshore, up from 42 percent in 1984, according to an analysis by the CEA.
o Companies hold an estimated $2.8 trillion in earnings offshore, according to Audit Analytics.
• Cutting corporate tax rates will encourage firms to invest back in the United States, creating well-paying jobs for hardworking Americans.
o After President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, the economy created 7.8 million jobs over five years, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
o After President Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, the economy created 14.8 million jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
o After President Kennedy’s tax cuts, the economy created 12.0 million new jobs over five years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
TAX CUTS AND TAX RELIEF: The Unified Framework supported by President Trump will mean hardworking Americans can keep more of their money.
• Double the standard deduction so that more income is taxed at zero percent.
o The first $12,000 of income for individuals and $24,000 for married couples will be income tax-free.
• Lower individual income tax rates to: 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.
• Increase the Child Tax Credit and expand it to benefit more middle-income families and eliminate the marriage penalty.
• Create a new $500 tax credit for those caring for an adult dependent or elderly loved one.
Of Taxes, Math, and Intellectual Honesty
Monday’s CEA white paper on the relationship between corporate tax rate reductions and the incomes of American workers has generated much discussion about why these types of rate reductions are important for families’ bottom lines. It is important to remember, as CEA has pointed out, that the last eight years have been a period in which the median American household’s income increased by just 0.6 percent per year, or an average of about $500.
Although the discussion of economics started in ancient Greece with Aristotle, modern economics is about 250 years old, and starts with Adam Smith. And from the beginning, its practitioners have been sure about at least one thing: taxes on production reduce the amount of economic activity in an economy.
Here’s Adam Smith’s take:
[Taxes] may obstruct the industry of the people, and discourage them from applying to certain branches of business which might give maintenance and employment to great multitudes.
(The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776)
The argument isn’t complicated. If a firm decides it is profitable to invest in a new factory, it does so by comparing the benefits it gets to the costs it would incur (including opportunity costs, for all you econ nerds out there). If the benefits exceed the costs, then it builds the factory. If not, it doesn’t.
Taxes on production (such as corporate income taxes) serve to make it harder for a project to pass this profitability test, and factories that otherwise would have been built (or equipment that would otherwise have been purchased) go unbuilt (or unpurchased). So, taxes cause fewer factories. And as long as those factories would have employed workers, you’ll get lower wages and fewer jobs.
The factories that didn’t get built, the U.S. output that didn’t get produced, the workers that weren’t employed, and the wages that didn’t get paid represent what we economists call “deadweight loss.” That there is deadweight loss from corporate taxation is not really controversial, although economists certainly disagree about its size. Taxes do, of course, pay for many useful services, but they also impose costs on society beyond the tax revenues collected.
The potential losses for U.S. workers from a given tax are bigger in a world where firms have options about where to build their factories. Not only does a factory need to be profitable in order for a firm to build it in the United States, it needs to be more profitable than building it somewhere else. After all, the additional profit forgone from building a factory abroad is part of the opportunity cost of building a factory domestically. The size of the corporate income tax in each country, therefore, helps determine who “wins” the new factory. That’s why you hear people call the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the developed world (Economic Co-operation and Development countries or OECD), “uncompetitive.” That’s why reducing the corporate rate is a top priority for the Trump Administration, and why the Obama Administration, unsuccessfully, urged Congress to do something about the U.S. corporate tax rate as well, which had bipartisan support. There has been this kind of support for corporate tax rate reductions in the past precisely because deadweight loss exists. And the losses increasingly fall on workers—factories can be moved, but workers are not as mobile.
These are well-accepted principles and facts among professional economists. However, some critics of the tax plan have been confused about them. The argument will go something like this: “Corporate rate reductions might reduce the amount of money the government gets in taxes. That money could either go to workers or to the owners of capital (like shareholders). But for every dollar in revenue the government foregoes, we see from the CEA estimates that they predict workers will get $2.50! Fake Math!” Some will even take it one step farther. “You’re essentially saying labor pays 250 percent of the corporate tax!”
To fully understand a complaint like this, you need to know that there’s a long history of thinking about the “burden” from taxation and that burden is not captured by tax revenue alone. As an extreme illustrative example, a $1 million tax on cars would lead to no revenue precisely because nobody would be able to afford a car, which would therefore cut down on driving and hurt the economy enormously. Can such a car tax be said to have no cost just because it generates no government revenue?
Corporate taxes hurt both workers and firms by reducing economic activity, and it can be instructive for policy-making to know how much of the total damage beyond tax revenues each group bears.
But the 250 percent calculation above doesn’t calculate the share of the total damage borne by workers. Instead, it assumes the only damage to workers and the owners of capital from the higher corporate tax is the amount of excess money the government was collecting from the higher rate. In that case, the only way a household could get more income from a tax cut is if it took back the government’s tax revenue. In other words, the 250 percent calculation does not allow workers to recover any of the deadweight loss caused by higher taxes!
Some critics of corporate tax cuts have erroneously ignored these accepted principles and facts. Indeed, one of the economists caught making this flawed $1 for $1 argument this week wrote a paper 10 years ago which painstakingly measured the relative labor and capital burdens of the corporate income tax, being careful to measure the overall change in economic activity. And in a new blog post, University of Chicago Professor Casey Mulligan shows that we should expect workers to receive $3.50 for each $1 reduction in government corporate tax revenue. Another post from Harvard University Professor Greg Mankiw says the number is at least $1.50, and higher so long as today’s naysayers are right about the spillovers from capital accumulation (that they wrote about in their highly-cited journal article on this topic).
Mulligan’s blog post helps clarify that the labor share of the corporate tax burden is how much workers aren’tgetting in income as a result of a corporate tax, as a share of the total amount of income workers and owners of capital, combined, are foregoing. (The shares, calculated, like this, sum to 100 percent.)
So, from where might the average increase of $4,000 in household income in the CEA white paper come? From renewed investment in the U.S. … from more factories and more machines … from incentives to bring the $2.8 trillion in cash that U.S. multinationals are holding offshore. All because the cost of capital investment in the U.S. is too high.
The bottom line is that the size of the pie isn’t fixed, as economists have known for centuries, and reducing corporate taxes doesn’t change household incomes by transferring money from the government to the household. So when you see an economist confused about these facts, hand them a copy of your Econ 101 notes.
Remarks by Vice President Pence and Community Participants on Tax Reform
Performance Advantage Company
Lancaster, New York
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Congressman Collins. Thank you, so much for bringing together a group of great citizens, of great job creators here in Erie County. And I want to express my appreciation to you for your strong support of President Trump’s agenda. And we’re here to talk about tax cuts. (Applause.) That all right?
I’m especially honored and grateful that the team here at Performance Advantage Company has opened the doors of this great American success story. I want to thank Dick Young, in particular, and Jim Everett and the whole team for hosting us. The Young family has been in business I’m told for 80 years. But he told me he started this company when he was a little bit more than 60 years old. And it’s been an incredible success story. So thank you me in thanking Dick Young and Jim Everett and everybody here. (Applause.)
I’d also like to take a moment because I know this is a business that has valued customers both in our military but most especially the foundation of this business is the support that you provide for our first responders. And I see many that are in the room. And let me just say on behalf of our President, on behalf of the American people to all the first responders who are here with us today, you are the best of us. We are grateful for your service and your courage every day. (Applause.)
And let me also say just momentarily our hearts are particularly today with the family of Buffalo Police Diver Craig Lehner, who is missing in the Niagra River. We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. And I just want to assure all the members of this community and this region that this courageous officer, a nine-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department and his family will remain in our prayers. The debt that we owe to men and women who put on the uniform every morning and walk out of their homes, leave their families behind to protect ours, we can never fully repay. But I want to assure all of you that this brave officer and his family are in our prayers today.
Now, I bring greetings today to the leaders of this great business, all the great first responders, all the citizens who are here from a great, great friend of Erie County, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President asked me to be here today with Congressman Collins to talk about his plan to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. And I’m anxious to do some listening today. The President has had me traveling around the country, and we’ve been in states from here all the way to the West Coast hearing from American families, American businesses about the importance of tax relief.
And as I begin, let me just say there are a couple basic elements of the tax cut that the President is proposing and that we’re going to be working with your congressman to get advanced in the Congress of the United States.
First and foremost, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families. We’re going to lower tax rates from seven brackets down to three. We’re going to increase the standard exemption by doubling it to some $24,000 so that for the average working family, your first $24,000 in income will be tax-free. And we’ll increase the per-child tax credit. So as the President says, this is a middle-class miracle.
This tax cut is first and foremost designed to help American families struggling too often to make ends meet to have more dollars in their pockets.
The President pointed out our tax-cut plan will give the average American family an extra $4,000 a year at least after we sign it into law.
Secondly, the President and I believe that the tax code is too complicated. Maybe some of you agree. (Laughter.) Truth is that the American people spend millions of hours and billions of dollars filling out our taxes every year. And I’m anxious to hear if people around this table have that feeling, as well.
Under the President’s plan, 90 percent of the American people will be able to file their taxes on one piece of paper without professional help. That’s a good start.
So tax simplification, lowering taxes across the board are all elements of the plan.
But lastly, sitting here at this great American success story, Performance Advantage Company, this businessman-turned-President believes that it’s also high time that America lowered taxes on American businesses so that companies here in New York can compete with companies around the world and create jobs right here in Lancaster and in Erie County. (Applause.)
The President’s plan is to lower corporate taxes from 35 percent, which is one of the highest in the industrialized world, down to 20 percent, which will be below the international average in Western countries. And we’re also — Dick and Jim, we’re going to lower taxes on small businesses that file their taxes as individuals, as maybe some around this table do, as well. Lowering it from the highest rate — too often small-business owners that file their taxes as individuals pay the highest rate of 39.6 percent. We’re going to lower that tax rate to 25 percent for pass-through companies. That will be the lowest tax rate on small businesses since 1931.
So that’s a rough outline of where we’re headed — tax cuts for individuals and families, tax cuts for small businesses, and tax simplification for every American.
But that’s the rough outline. I thought I’d give a thumbnail. I’m going to turn it over to Jim for his comments, and then I’m just anxious to hear your thoughts. My main question here, Jim, is to each one of you. Tell us your thoughts about President Trump’s tax-cut plan. Tell us what you think is most important because at the end of the day, it really is about helping American families and creating jobs. And I’m here to hear from each and every one of you as the debate begins in Congress in the coming weeks about what’s most important about this plan and how we can advance the kind of policies that will get this county, get this state, and get America growing again.
So thank you, Jim, and thank you for the warm welcome today.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you. Mr. Vice President and Representative Collins, thanks so much for coming here to PAC and for listening to this panel of small-business owners and community leaders. We are all excited to tell you our stories and why we think our country needs tax reform now. (Laughter.)
I think the first person we’re going to hear from is Mr. Young here. He’s been doing it longer than any of us in the room so far. So, Dick, we need you to tell about the business.
MR. YOUNG: Well, there’s just no question about it, if you don’t have money to spend, you can’t buy the tools, the equipment, and put the staff, the people. You have to have that.
And it’s been a very, very tough road because the only way I could build this company, frankly, was to hold back on my pay to hire new people, to buy new machinery. And when New York gets through with you, it eats a lot.
So in any event, if we had an opportunity to grow, we want to expand. We’ve got business in — 36 countries around the world depend on us. That’s neat. That’s neat. And the U.S. Navy. So in any event, any help we can get, I’m sure these other folks have got a lot of their own problems. But in our particular, situation, thank God we’re in a profitable business because if we were on edge, we would be in real trouble. We couldn’t grow. We couldn’t move.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me ask you a quick question. One of the things the President is proposing is immediate expensing of capital investments, as opposed to being five years. Is that a job-creating move? Tell me why that is.
MR. YOUNG: I think that’s a marvelous move because we have a 3D printer upstairs that will make a prototype of the products that we draw. If you can expense that and move on, ultimately that’s going to improve, isn’t it? In just a few years, they’ll have a better model. And you have to be on top of it, or you’re not going to make it.
MR. EVERETT: Another community leader now who is carrying the family business into their fifth generation is Valerie Duel (ph,) the president of Montgomery Building Supply.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, Valerie. Thanks for coming.
MS. DUEL: Nice to meet you. My family business — we’re a lumber and building supply. We started in 1898, so my family has seen quite a few things change through the years.
In what I see, if people have extra money in their pocket, they’ll spend it. And I’m from Wyoming County, so I’m heavy agriculture county. So when the milk is up, the farmers have money — extra money to spend. When gas is down the typical homeowner has extra money. And they’ll save each week. Not necessarily will they buy a big-ticket item at one time. They’ll save — if they’ve got an extra $20 in their pocket each week, they’ll save up and maybe buy a window in a month.
So my people are savers. So anything that they can make the extra money or save the extra money, it in turn comes to me. So that’s where I see extra money helping my business.
And if I have extra money, then I can hire more people. Like Mr. Young said, the owners of the business typically get paid last. So we have to invest in our own companies.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So the biggest part of this for you is people having more money in their pockets and able to make investments?
MS. DUEL: Yes, yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In building supplies. But the business taxes you file as an individual, I think.
MS. DUEL: I’m a C corp.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You’re a C corp, so you’d see significant tax reduction there. But you would put that second to people having more dollars to spend in terms of the positive impact on the business?
MS. DUEL: Yes, I would see more of a benefit with my customers having extra money.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, that’s a great comment. Thank you so much, appreciate you being here. Really do.
MR. EVERETT: David and Colleen Basil are also in a family business. David is the sales manager for a family car dealership here in the Buffalo area, which many of us recognize the name.
MR. BASIL: Thank you for that. I think the most important thing for us in the automotive industry is simplicity. The tax plan has got to be simple so that the people working with us have the ability to control their income every week and every month.
It is so, so important that they can do that so they’re not fighting through all this bureaucratic red tape at the end of the year to try to get some of their money back. So I think simplicity is very, very important. We have enough complications to deal with on a daily basis. Taxes are really not something we think should be complicated. So I really like the simplicity of it, and I would say that would be a major strength of it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I want to be clear on that, Dave. It was a great comment. But with regard to the predictability or are you also concerned about compliance? It’s astounding to think of the literally billions of dollars that are spent by Americans every year trying to figure out what they owe the government. So which is it from your standpoint? Just people knowing what they owe, be confident about that, or even the dollars saved, or both?
MR. BASIL: I think it’s a little bit of both. From the business side of things, we have an army of accountants that show up at the end of the year to try to figure out what the taxes are.
And I think from the personnel side, it’s knowing what you owe and being confident in what your paycheck is going to look like on Friday afternoon.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. How is business?
MR. BASIL: Good, very good. We’ve grown about double in last 10 years. My grandfather started the company in 1967 with one store. We’ve got 11 stores and 800 employees.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Congratulations on all your success. And yours, Valerie.
MS. DUEL: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: These are great, great business owners. Thanks, Dave.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you both for being here today, too. Another family business that needs tax reform is Zipline Golf. The owners, Greg Arnold, and his wife, Kristin, are here to share their story on how they’d benefit from a tax cut.
MR. ARNOLD: My father started Zipline Golf. We’re an online supplier of logoed golf balls, which is sort of a random but effective job. It’s a somebody has to do it, and my dad thought it was unacceptable that he couldn’t get two dozen golf balls to pay off a bet with his brother and went out and found a guy who was going out of business with Dick’s and Golf Galaxy getting into the golf marketplace. And just at the time the Internet was getting going, my dad though, hey — he’s just retired from Dunlop — why don’t I make this my new labor of love. And he started the business, and we’ve been going since 1998, providing purely Internet-based sales out of Buffalo. But we’re a pass-through tax. He runs it off of his own taxes. But we haven’t been doing well enough since the recession that we’d have to worry about the tax implications. We’re making enough — like Dick had said, if I want to bring someone on, I’m going to take a cut and hopefully I can use my free time that a new employee would give to then expand my business and move into another marketplace because golf balls — they sound surprisingly easy, but take a little work. There’s a reason that the major manufacturers don’t want to do the small business that we do. We live in the one- to twelve-dozen area for personal use for gifts and for weddings and things. They’re the gift that you can’t find someone. They’ve got everything but a golf ball with your face on it or something like is a surprisingly good gift. (Laughter.)
PARTICIPANT: Send me a dozen. (Laughter.)
MR. ARNOLD: But we’re sort of interested in the opportunity that we’re sort of catching up with the Internet and the amount of money that it now takes to be visible on the Internet, which 10 years ago was nothing. It was a drop in the bucket, and now it’s a huge portion of our sales to come out to staying relevant in the marketplace. So the opportunity of growing and being able to save some money and expand the business and bring more people in and share what we’re doing as a family-owned, veteran-run company, we have a nice family feel there, where we’re happy going to work every day. And the fact that we can’t share it with anyone else other than our customers is something we’d like to be able to remedy, and we’re hoping to do well enough to take advantage of these tax cuts.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You do business around the country?
MR. ARNOLD: Yes, yes, we ship a lot of Florida and California, but all over. Anywhere that needs a logoed golf ball.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Wonderful and vetern-owned company, too.
MR. ARNOLD: Yes, third generation. My father was, yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Appreciate you. Kristin, any thoughts about what the tax cut means from your perspective?
MS. ARNOLD: Well, I’m actually a relationship manager at Key Bank. I work in the business banking group, so I work hand-in-hand with small-business owners, helping them to secure financing or growth and expansion of their businesses. And I think tax reform is something that is constantly on their minds and what we talk about, especially coming to the end of the year. People are trying to make decisions on if they should make that last investment in their company, can they buy that equipment. Will they have the tax advantage to write it off. And I think the tax breaks would give them an opportunity to hire more employees, expand into different lines of businesses that they’ve been holding off on because they’re not sure if they’re going to have funds.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They have been holding off?
MS. ARNOLD: Yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s your perception of the businesses locally?
MS. ARNOLD: It’s something that they seem to struggle with, you know, every year.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. ARNOLD: If they should be reinvesting and what that will do. And having the extra funds would make that decision a lot easier.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. Well, thanks for your insights, both of you. And congratulations on your success, it’s great. Help is on the way.
MR. ARNOLD: Hoping for more. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Help is on the way.
MR. EVERETT: Another couple that know the struggles of starting and growing a business is a Richard and Rachel Budd. They started Goodrich Coffee and Tea because of their love of people, coffee, and business, and in that order.
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah, so we started the business in ‘08, in the summer of July of ‘08. And it was a really great timing to start a business because the stock market — (laughter) — so it was a really tough time to start a business. And we did everything we could do to try and start afloat. I didn’t take a paycheck for seven months.
Yeah, and you know you’re working 80 hours a week and you have to make every dollar count. So we, with diligence, hard work, and we were able to do that. I got my first paycheck — we started in July — I got my first pay check February 13th. That was for $200. And I felt like the richest guy in the world. (Laughter.)
And then the next day I asked Rachel to marry me. So I really felt pretty rich. So I know she really loves me because I didn’t have any money. So —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Did she say yes?
MR. GOODRICH: She did, yes. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you had the $200.
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah I had the $200. So, and you fast-forward nearly 10 years late, we still have a lot of struggles. And finances are always an issue. I pay more to the state and federal government than what I take out of business. So I always think of it like, is the federal government waking up at five o’clock in the morning, doing this, doing that — putting their hand to it.
So that’s where I’m coming from. So it would just — that’s my two cents — our 200 cents.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rachel, your thoughts on this? What do you — you’ve been on this journey with him every step of the way.
MS. GOODRICH: I have been. On a personal level, if we were bringing home more money that the business makes instead of paying to the government, we would invest it in our children’s education. We have three small children who we homeschool. So we pay for that out of our pockets. And we would love to have Richard home to help with educating the children a little more. He works long days. And we’d love to take them on some educational trips — museums, national parks, that kind of stuff.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Washington, D.C.?
MS. GOODRICH: Yeah. (inaudible)
MR. GOODRICH: So we’d reinvest into our family, into the next generation, on the personal side. And then, as far in our business, we can hire more people, equipment, and grow. We can save up for the second location and put money into our wholesale business that is growing.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. You have a wholesale business as well?
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. That’s Goodrich Coffee?
MR. GOODRICH: Goodrich Coffee. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good, rich coffee. (Laughter.)
Well congratulations on your success. But the statement that you offered — you pay more in state and federal taxes that you take out of the business, than you earn out of the business. And as you look at the President’s tax cut proposal, what appeals to you the most? That’s a pass-through company. You said you didn’t pay yourself.
Like a lot — I started a business of my own in the basement of my house. So I went through this for seven months. We already had three kids running around upstairs. So I really admire both of you.
But the President wants to make sure we that we lower taxes on companies that file as individuals. I assume that’s — you’re in that category. Is that yes or no?
MR. GOODRICH: We’re an S-Corp actually.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You’re — that would be it. Right. So that would lower the tax rate down from — whatever rate you end up paying at, could be the highest rate — down to 25 percent. Big difference for you?
MR. GOODRICH: It’s a huge difference. I mean it’s just — I feel like small business often gets forgotten. You know? And so it’s nice to be heard.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Great. Well thank you, and congratulations. Great run. First 10 years if the hardest on your company. (Laughter.) For the business. (Laughter.)
MR. GOODRICH: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I meant.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you both for being here. It means a lot.
MR. EVERETT: Yes, thanks so much for sharing your story and your thoughts. Kelly Culp-Burton, she also knows the struggles of starting of starting a business. She started her business, KCB Architecture, in her home and has grown it now to where she’s employing five people.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thanks, Chuck. Welcome to western New York. Jeff mentioned I have my own architecture firm, which I started out of my home and have grown enough to move into an office. And so, just as many of the people have said here, I go through the same struggles with taxes and, being the business owner, the last one paid. If I want to — and what I’ve done is I’ve grown my business, I’ve either taken no pay or reduced pay to turn that money back around and put it back into the business. So any type of tax relief would be welcome in growing the business.
But my question is — part of my business is — we’re one of the area’s leading architectural firms that does high-end custom residential homes that are net zero. And net zero being an energy efficient. And something that entices the owners to spend that extra money on the solar, the geothermal systems are incentives that come through the government. So my question is, is there any plan for incentives so these tax savings don’t just stay in the bank or somebody’s pocket, that it gets reintroduced into the economy because, basically, that’s what keeps all of our businesses going is a healthy economy. So if we’re saving money and the economy dips, it’s not that much of a help. So is there something that’s going to be in place to make sure that the money keeps flowing?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Chris, do you want to take a swing at that?
REPRESENTATIVE COLLINS: Well, to me, the easy one is, people spend pretty much every incremental dollar they have. And they’re going to spend it either on golf balls with Vice President Pence’s face on it — (laughter) — or they’re going to buy doors and windows, or they’re going to be doing things in the architectural world. It’s all about growth, but it’s about the incremental dollar that’s now in someone’s pocket. It’s not going to Washington, D.C. It’s all about growth.
And what I’m hearing is every small business is looking for more people to come in with more discretionary income, whether — and I go to your place, it’s only a mile down the street. You know, I meet people there, and we have our breakfast sandwich and our coffee. The incremental dollars, the discretionary dollars are going to churn through our economy. That’s how we’re going from the 1.8 percent to 3 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.5 percent growth.
Everyone at this table benefits from growth, and it’s the money churning. And so I think the answer to your question is everything we do to save money for small businesses, individuals is going to churn back into your business. It’s pretty much that simple.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do think, Kelley, the President’s outline here, that, actually, we’ve worked with the leadership in the Congress to come to a broad-base agreement on the outline is a starting point for the debate and the discussion within the Congress. And there’s tax simplification and lowering rates on businesses and individuals, but those incentives that are in the tax code today, tax credits that are in today will remain in effect unless we’ve addressed them in the plan that we’ve outlined.
So if there are those energy credits and things that you currently work with some of your customers on, the President does want to eliminate some of the big loopholes that have benefited the wealthy over the years, even while we lower marginal rates at every level. We want a flatter, fairer tax-rate system. But other than that, some of those historic energy incentives, I expect to remain in place unless Congress decides otherwise. But we’ll carry that back into the debate. Okay?
So five employees? And how long have you been in business?
MS. CULP-BURTON: We just hit six years.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Congratulations.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s really outstanding. Really outstanding. Thanks for being here, Kelley.
MS. CULP-BURTON: Thank you, and thank you for your time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You bet.
MR. EVERETT: And finally, the Marchettas. Their family is one that has known so hardship with the sickness of their child, Jack. Still, Chuck and Colleen persevered, and Chuck started the engineering firm, Engineered Thermal Solutions.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, so Engineered Thermal Solutions is a — we’re a sales representative company. And we generally sell large industrial cooling equipment to the industrial markets, such as oil and gas, power, mining, petrochemical, pulp paper. So we’re very heavily dependent on — generally, the industrial markets to do well.
Now, we’re a new company. We’re only — this is our — we’re almost two years. We’ve been in business — will be two years in January. So, I left a very large company that was previously a small privately held company but was bought out. And I decided to go off on my own because I think that the risk versus reward there was just — the environment changed and I wanted to kind of not take the risk on my own.
But there’s a lot of expenses that you don’t realize — (laughter) — when you first go into this world of business ownership. And one of the things I had to do right away was hire an accountant because we did our taxes on our own, Turbo Tax or something like that — essentially on our own. But the first thing I had to do was hire a tax professional because, how do we set up the company? Do we set up an LLC? Do we set up an S corporation? And it was all based on how we’re going to be taxed, what’s going to be our least — our most efficient tax burden.
And even right now, we’re set up as an LLC, but as we do better here — it’s just two of us right now — but as we do better, we want to hire people. We need to bring more sales people in. But we think that we’re probably going to have to change the structure of the business based on what the income ends up being. We’re not to that point yet, but still it’s — I think that if the tax code could help us with that part of the business, understanding that maybe — simplifying to the point where we understand what our tax rate is going to be, you know? And we don’t have to necessarily hire a professional to tell us, well, you should have this type of company and this, so on and so forth.
It would allow us to focus on hiring people, which is what we need to do right now. We need more people to get out — boots on the ground, go calling these plants, find the maintenance people and assess the equipment.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Colleen.
MS. MARCHETTA: I was just from the spousal standpoint when he started the business, the biggest expense, just from the beginning, was he lost his healthcare at this job, and we were paying that out of pocket. So when you’re starting your own business, you’re hit with a ton of expenses. And obviously healthcare was very important to us because my son happened to be diagnosed with a rare disease right around the same time Chuck started his business. Actually, Jack is here today with my daughter, Madison. They’re behaving themselves, so that’s good. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Where’s Jack?
MS. MARCHETTA: They’re — Jackson.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We’ll meet them in a minute.
MS. MARCHETTA: Okay. So — say, “Hi, Mr. Vice President.”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Jack. (Laughter.)
MS. MARCHETTA: Jack is doing very well now, so now he looks like a very healthy-looking boy. He’s doing great.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He looks great — beautiful boy.
MS. MARCHETTA: But that was one of the reasons why I went back to work as a teacher. We couldn’t take that much of a risk starting our business — with Chuck starting his business. But a child tax credit would be fantastic. So thank you for that. And just more money in the business’s pocket — they can do what they want to do. Open up an office. Hire more employees. That’s what you’ve been talking about for the past six months.
MR. MARCHETTA: That’s exactly where we’re at right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: How many employees do you have at this point?
MR. MARCHETTA: Two — myself and a business partner right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. MARCHETTA: And we’ve been doing it for two years. We’re actually — we’re staying even. We don’t owe too much money at this point.
MS. MARCHETTA: You’ll be traveling less, so you can spend more time —
MR. MARCHETTA: But I travel a lot. So to chase the energy markets, you’re on a plane a lot. We go down to the Gulf Coast, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana a lot because the industry — those industries around here, around Buffalo, don’t really exist as heavily as they do down there.
MS. MARCHETTA: And also, the time he spent on accounting, he should be spending that time growing his business. He should be learning more about what he’s doing. He should be pushing growth, not figuring out loopholes in the tax code and how to handle all of this that’s so new to him right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You couldn’t have said it better. I mean, you put the numbers on what the American people spend in terms of time and money filling out their taxes. There’s an opportunity cost to that; that when you’re not working on your business, when you’re not our creating, that’s costing. So, Colleen, that’s just especially well said, I thought.
And with regard to tax relief and tax simplification, number one, I want everybody who is here to be clear, the President is talking about doubling the family exemption so that literally — run a calculator, the first $24,000 a year that you earn is completely tax-free. So that’s an enormous benefit to families in terms of just planning.
That’s why President points out — says the average family will have $4,000 more a year in your pockets, largely owing to that and increasing the per-child tax credit. But by lowering the rate on pass-through corporations — because right now you’re figuring what’s my income, so what’s my bracket — one of the seven brackets. Now we can give you the one option of planning on, well, we’ll pay the 25 percent rate.
I was just in California about this time last week and I met with a small business tech firm — had about 50 employees. And they literally had told me that they asked their employees if they could look at their tax returns, their tax filings. And they looked at the business tax filings and they took President Trump’s plan and laid it on top of it, and they found out the average tax savings for their 50 employees was 40 percent, and the average savings for their company was 25 percent because they were a pass-through company.
So that’s the kind of savings and the kind of predictability that you’re talking about. And you plow that right — you want to grow. You know, one of the misnomers about tax codes is that people think, well, Chuck and Colleen just — you know, if you get a tax break then you keep it for yourself. What I hear from small business people saying is, how do I grow? How do I open up the second coffee shop? How do we expand, hire more people?
MR. MARCHETTA: That’s where I want to get to — we have an office. We can afford to have people there, and I can have a secretary answer the phone. You know, that would be great right now.
MS. MARCHETTA: I pretend to be his secretary sometimes. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s pretty funny. I know those days are coming, Chuck.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can see it. I can see it. So congratulations.
MR. MARCHETTA: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You’re in a good place, got a good start, but help is on the way. Okay?
MR. MARCHETTA: Appreciate it.
MR. EVERETT: Thank you all very much for sharing your stories about your business. (Applause.)
And Mr. Vice President and Representative Collins, thank you very much for listening. We know that if there’s anyone that can get this done for America, it’s you and our President. Thank you.
* * * * *
REPRESENTATIVE COLLINS: Well, I too want to thank everyone for coming. And, Jim, thank you for moderating this. Dick Young, always, thank you for hosting us here today and all of our panelists.
It’s about growth. Growth is what’s going to grow our way out of the problems with our deficit, with our debt. It’s going to get businesses growing with — everyone here said the same thing: We want more business. We’re going to hire more employees.
So that’s the simple message. And, Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming to western New York. The streets were lined, we had 200 people at the airport to greet the Vice President. This is a big day and a big deal for western New York. And you made a lot of people rethink where we are in government, and you’ve got a lot of supporters here, certainly, in the 27th Congressional District. That’s ground zero for Trump support. So, thank you for coming. Thank you for all you do for America.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chris. Thank you very much, Congressman. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
It’s been a great day, and I just — I want to thank all the business owners and job creators, including our hosts who helped engage this conversation. I found it very illuminating. I look forward to carrying it back to the White House, filling the President in a little bit later today and using a lot of your arguments to sell Congress on tax cuts. I’m going to use it. This is a great concept.
I want to thank Performance Advantage Company. Dick and Jim, thank you again for your hospitality and for your great example of American success. I told Dick Young, he’s a lot like Colonel Sanders. (Laughter.) Didn’t start his business until he was 61 — (laughter) — and now look at him. Give these guys another round-of-applause, would you please? (Applause.)
And, Dick, I appreciated your comments about the President’s plan. At the very beginning, we outlined — this is a plan about lowering tax rates, lowering all the marginal rates from seven brackets down to three. The first $24,000 in income will pay zero taxes going forward for working families. There will be an increase in the per child tax credit.
As President Trump says, “This is a middle-class miracle.” And that’s right where this is focused because the President wants to bring the kind of tax relief that, as Valerie said, is going to just put more money in people’s pockets. People come into the building supply company because they’ve got dollars to put in a new window, put in a new door.
And this is first and foremost, it’s about bringing the kind of tax relief that puts more money in your pockets, more money for those homeschool kids that you’re raising, and more money to be able to invest in your business.
Secondly, it’s about tax simplification. I appreciate what Chuck and Colleen said about a tax code that you’ve taken a tremendous amount of time off the road, tremendous amount of time out of growing your business, whether that be selling cars or selling coffee, trying to figure out what you owe the government. Well, that’s going to change because we’re going to have real tax simplification here. And nine out of ten Americans are going to be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper.
And lastly, it is about lowering taxes on businesses. I was very struck — I had mentioned it before, but Dick Young mentioned it — the idea that companies can write off the cost of new equipment in the first year instead of over a five-year period of time or longer period of time, this is a great benefit to businesses. And it also allows businesses to continue to modernize, continue to move into the newer equipment that’s going to let you be competitive.
It’s interesting to me that our host today here at Performance Advantage Company pointed out that they do business in — did you say, 68 countries?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thirty-six countries. I transposed it — 36 countries around the world. I mean, the truth is, and it’s probably true selling golf balls, you’re doing business all over the world. People here across Erie County are competing with companies around the world. And so making sure that we have a tax code that takes that into account and encourages investment is very, very significant.
And I just have to tell you, having started a business in the basement of my home, I’m just incredibly inspired by the entrepreneurs gathered around here. And I just want to tell you that we’re going to work our hearts out in the days ahead. I said it before to a couple of you, but I’ll make a promise to you: Help is on the way, okay? We’re going to roll our sleeves up, we’re going to work with this congressman, with all the members of the House and Senate, and we’re are going to pass the largest tax cut in American history, and we’re going to pass it this year. (Applause.)
So thank you for the warm welcome. It’s an honor to be with you today. Special thanks, again, to the first responders who are with us today. My uncle was a police officer in Chicago. My cousin is married to a firefighter in the Chicago Fire Department. We know what it is when you have a job where your job is to run in when others are running out. And so we thank you and we admire you greatly.
So to each and every one of you, I just say, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of President Donald Trump, thank you for your time today and thank you for your support of the President’s agenda. I’m just absolutely confident, with great leadership in the Congress and a great President in the White House and with God’s help, we will make America prosperous again. We will make America safe again. And, to borrow a phrase — (laughter) — we will Make America Great Again. Thanks everybody and God bless you. (Applause.)
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