All of us tax procrastinators -- and yes, I use "us" because I'm one of them -- still have three weeks to file our 2015 returns.
But in the spirit of delaying my current personal tax task a bit longer (c'mon; 21 days is plenty of time!), I'm taking some more time today to look at what the top four presidential candidates' tax plans might mean for my future tax bills.
The Tax Policy Center and Vox have made finding out easy with a new calculator that computes the various political/tax answers.
No, those tax bills illustrated above are not based on my actual income. While I'm generally for financial blogging transparency, the hubby also is involved by virtue of his income and our joint filings. But it's my blog, not his, and he prefers to remain as anonymous as possible. So I just popped $150,000 into the calculator on a lark.
Putting $$$ on candidate plans: Also keep in mind that the TPC/Vox calculator offers only a rough estimate of taxes under Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
John Kasich, who's still in the GOP nominee race, was not included because his tax plan so far doesn't offer enough detail to provide an effective model. If that changes (before he's eliminated), TPC says he'll be added to the mix.
The projected tax bill on my wished for $150,000 a year actually is based on 2017 dollars, which are bumped up for inflation to $156,795. That means, say the calculator creators, that "on average, people like you -- whose income is between $150,000 and $160,000 and are married with no children -- would pay about $43,390 in federal taxes in 2017 under the current tax code, or an effective tax rate of about 20.3% of your expanded cash income*."
*Expanded cash income (ECI), says TPC, is a broad measure of pre-tax income that the nonprofit uses to analyze the distribution of federal taxes. ECI equals cash income plus 1) tax-exempt employee and employer contributions to health insurance and other fringe benefits, 2) employer contributions to tax-preferred retirement accounts, 3) income earned within retirement accounts, and 4) food stamps. By adopting this broader income measure, TPC says it is able to characterize differences in the economic status of individual taxpayers more completely and accurately.
GOP savings, Democratic bills: Technical and various income considerations aside, the bottom line, as shown in the graphic of my hypothetical six-figure income, is that the tax cuts proposed by Trump and Cruz help me (and the hubby) a lot.
Sanders' plan, on the other hand, would burn this income version of me (and the hubby).
And under Clinton, our tax bill would be essentially unchanged.
For more grins, I looked at what we'd pay under these four plans if we were half-millionaires. It was basically more of the same.
A $500,000 income (or $522,650 in 2017 dollars) would produce a tax bill that's $57,410 less under Trump (a 19 percent tax rate); $87,470 less under Cruz (a 14.5 percent rate); $5,540 more under Clinton (a 28.3 percent rate); and $70,870 more (a 38 percent rate) under Sanders.
Run your numbers, real or made up, and see which White House hopeful would pay off for you at tax time. It's not the only thing to consider when you vote, but neither should you ignore the potential real life tax effects.
Also look at all the candidates' tax plans for more than just dollars. You can find them on their campaign websites. There you can see how Clinton and Sanders would like to spend the added tax dollars they want to collect primarily from wealthier taxpayers. Cruz and Trump focus on the individual saving their plans offer and the programs they are willing to cut (or not) to allow for lower taxes.
Remember, too, that regardless of who wins in November, the chances of him or her getting every tax thing they want, at least immediately, are low.
Now back to the here and now and our 2015 tax bill.
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