In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s tax day once again. (Very likely the least popular holiday in the United States and nobody gets a Hallmark card for it.) So how did the tax situation work out for you? To listen to the Democrats out on the campaign trail, you might be led to believe that you paid more taxes in 2018. We see that message reinforced on cable news discussion panels on a weekly basis. But now, long after that talking point has been baked into the cake, the New York Times has come out with a depressing admission. Almost all of you probably got a tax cut.
Ever since President Trump signed the Republican-sponsored tax bill in December 2017, independent analyses have consistently found that a large majority of Americans would owe less because of the law. Preliminary data based on tax filings has shown the same.
Yet as the first tax filing season under the new law wraps up on Monday, taxpayers are skeptical. A survey conducted in early April for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey found that just 40 percent of Americans believed they had received a tax cut under the law. Just 20 percent were certain they had done so. That’s consistent with previous polls finding that most Americans felt they hadn’t gotten a tax cut, and that a large minority thought their taxes had risen — though not even one in 10 households actually got a tax increase.
To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained — and misleading — effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase.
This is yet another case of perception trumping reality. The Gray Lady’s own polling shows that the liberal messaging war about how the tax cuts only benefitted the wealthy has really sunk in. Only 20% of respondents were “certain” that they’d gotten a tax cut. (The number is closer to 70%.) Of course, the New York Times hasn’t done much to correct these falsehoods until now, so it’s no wonder there are so many misconceptions.
The other problem leading to this confusion is clearly the American love affair with tax refund checks. The way the tax cuts were implemented by the IRS meant that more money started showing up in workers’ paychecks immediately. The money was spread out over a year’s worth of paydays and less money was withheld from your paychecks. That means that unless you increased your withholdings each payday, there was less money building up in the federal “bank” for you and you got a smaller refund or might have even owed money.
I’ve grown tired of shouting at the ocean on this topic. If you want to let the government hang on to your money all year like an interest-free loan just so you can get a check the following year, that’s your business. Personally, my family tailors our withholdings so we either get a very small refund or owe a small amount. But in any event, liberals and the media have apparently convinced most Americans that they didn’t get a tax cut when they actually did. What a wonderful time to be alive, eh?