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GUEST COLUMN: Why your tax break isn’t bigger

It’s everyone’s least favorite time of year again – tax season – which means millions of middle class Americans have spent the last few weeks stressed over their family’s financial health. As they look forward through 2018, some see promise, some see problems, and some see uncertainty. But almost none of them see something very important that they were promised last year, something that has completely failed to materialize – a middle class tax cut.

In the debate over last year’s tax bill, Republicans promised that even though corporations and the wealthy were getting a sizeable amount of the bill’s benefits, their real focus was on the middle class. They said that every American would see a real, substantial change in their paycheck. Well, three months have gone by, and if you’re left wondering where your big break is, you’re not alone.

Middle class families all across the country have been left wondering why their paychecks only increased by a couple dollars a week. Whether it’s an extra $5, $10, or even $20 a week, most taxpayers are getting pocket change. No one’s complaining about getting a little extra gas money, but last year’s changes to the tax code are going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit. Where did all that money go?

The answer’s easy – it went to rich people like me.

It’s no secret that corporations and the wealthy have received nearly all of the benefits of the tax bill. As a wealthy person, my tax rate dropped dramatically after the recent tax bill, and my net worth rose even more as companies, flush with cash from their own tax break, spent billions on stock buybacks rather than hiring or employee raises. Millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations are thriving, while the middle class is expected to be happy with our crumbs.

Let’s be clear – it’s a good thing for millions of working Americans to be taking home a few hundred extra dollars a year. But that amount of money isn’t changing anyone’s life, and it comes with enormous long terms costs that the middle class, not the wealthy, are going to end up paying. Even setting aside the fact that all of these tax cuts expire in 10 years leaving most Americans paying more, the reduction in government services that’s going to come because of the bill’s $1.9 trillion addition to the debt is going to be devastating to normal Americans.

Our country’s infrastructure will continue to crumble, your children’s schools will get worse and worse, and I hope you’ve been saving your tax cuts for retirement, because Social Security and Medicare are already under attack from Republicans claiming we can’t afford them.

Taxes can be complicated, but this really isn’t. Corporations and the rich get almost all of the benefits of last year’s tax bill, while the middle class is stuck suffering through the consequences. It’s as simple as that.

Republicans in Congress and their billionaire donors don’t want you thinking about the truth of the bill, though. They’re spending millions of dollars on campaigns talking about how great this tax bill is for the middle class, but the fact that they think they need to spend money to convince people their tax cut was big enough is revealing. It doesn’t take millions of dollars to sell a real middle-class tax cut.

Their PR campaigns may distract from the truth of the bill for a while, but they can’t cover it up forever. It’s the political equivalent to slapping a few dozen air fresheners on a bag of trash – it may smell better for a while, but it doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day you’re dealing with a pile of hot garbage.

Stephen Prince is the Vice-Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and a businessman who founded National Business Products, now known as Card Marketing Services, in 1993. Prince focused the company’s attention on finding innovative print solutions for the credit, debit and prepaid card industry. As the gift card phenomenon began to evolve in the late ‘90’s, he switched the company focus from one that provided heavy paper print offerings to one whose primary product line was plastic cards and support materials for them. Today, as gift and loyalty card programs have proliferated and grown, Stephen is invited to deliver his “gift card gospel” to sales staffs, merchant clients as well as potential platform partners all over the U.S.

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GUEST COLUMN: Why your tax break isn’t bigger