Three weeks ago today, Senator Rick Scott made an unexpected move: the Florida Republican unveiled a 31-page plan, outlining the kind of ideas he wants his party to pursue in the next Congress. It was a controversial plan for many reasons, not the least of which was Scott’s proposed tax increases on roughly half the country.
“All Americans should pay income tax to get in on the game, even if it’s a small amount,” the GOP senator wrote. “Currently, more than half of Americans pay no income tax.”
The Democrats pounced on this for obvious reasons. As we discussed, millions of American adults currently do not pay federal income tax because they do not earn enough money to qualify. Scott, chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee and a member of the Republican Senate leadership, proposes changing that: He envisions a tax system in which those who don’t make enough money would have to pay more than they currently pay.
A variety of questions soon followed, starting with an obvious one: what kind of money are we talking about here? At this point, the GOP senator has offered no significant details: Scott wants to raise taxes on millions of Americans, but we don’t yet know by how much.
That said, some number breakers have started to fill in the gaps. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center released this report on the heels of Scott unveiling his plan.
The Tax Policy Center estimates that meeting Scott’s target could raise federal income taxes by more than $100 billion in 2022 alone. More than 80% of the tax increase would be paid by households earning about $54,000 or less, and 97% would be paid by those earning less than about $100,000.
For analysis, the Tax Policy Center considered a model in which the Republican tax hike created a minimum tax of $100 for unmarried filers and $200 for couples filing jointly. Granted, that’s not what Scott explicitly asked for, but for the sake of analysis, it gives us an idea of what a “skin in the game” policy might look like.
About a week later, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy produced a related report that found, according to the GOP senator’s view, that most tax increases “would be paid for by the 40% of poorest Americans.
And how much would they pay? Kevin Drum recently made an excellent point, explaining that policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) create negative income tax bills – in some cases up to thousands of dollars – for the working poor.
For Scott and his allies, even charging these Americans $1 a year — seemingly a tiny sum that almost anyone could afford — would mean huge losses for households.
That’s quite a move for a Republican leader to make in an election year.