After months of debating and revising, Congress closed out 2017 by passing the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, which was subsequently signed into law by President Trump. Since the campaign trail, President Trump has promised tax reform, and this bill entails a number of changes to the U.S. tax code that will impact both corporations and individuals.
Many economists and experts believe this tax bill will provide a short-term boost to the economy, but by how much we don’t know. The Joint Committee on Taxation believes the bill will boost growth the total size of the US GDP by 0.8 percentage points over the first decade, while Goldman Sachs is estimating GDP growth will increase 0.3 percentage points above their baseline over the next two years.
Regardless of how much or how little economic growth we can expect in the coming years, the big question is, what exactly does this bill mean for you and your financial plan? In a nutshell, it lowers tax rates for individuals and corporations, increases the child tax credit, doubles the standard deduction, and caps or eliminates several deductions. Here’s what we can expect from this bill.
It’s estimated that around 80% of people will see a tax cut in the first year of the legislation, and the Tax Policy Center estimates that the average person will see a tax cut of $1,610 in 2018. (1) However, the amount will vary based on income bracket. In general, the tax bill favors wealthier Americans, offering more tax breaks the more you earn, with fewer benefits to lower and middle class Americans. The TPC estimates that 65.8% of the total federal tax benefit will go to the top 20% of earners.
As a result of an increased after-tax income, some economists believe this may boost consumer confidence. However, the after-tax income increase may not be enough to see an economic change.
Big businesses will significantly benefit from the tax bill, namely with the federal corporate tax rate dropping from 35% to 21%. Companies will likely see a serious boost in their profits, with JPMorgan estimating that this bill could boost the earnings per share of S&P 500 companies by $10 per share in 2018. (2)
Additionally, some experts estimate that giant companies like Google will save several billion dollars in 2018 due to the new tax code. With these tax cuts, businesses could use these savings to increase wages, pay down debt, invest, or pay for capital expenditures.
Since large companies benefit from reduced taxes, their value will be pushed higher on Wall Street. The market was up in early trading after news of the bill. Many experts believe that gains are not already priced into the market and that it could continue to go up significantly through 2018.
Small and mid-cap stocks, consumer staples, telecoms, financials, and industrials pay the highest tax rate, so with the new tax cuts, values of these companies could go up in the short term. Many experts believe that stocks will rise as a result of the news, with the markets already seeing much activity. Experts at JPMorgan believe stocks could even rise 5% after the bill officially passes. (3) However, they also anticipate volatility in the new year.
Where Does This Leave You?
This tax bill is brand new, so there is still much to learn and understand before we will know how it will impact households and businesses in the near and far future. No one is sure exactly how the economy will behave in the coming months or years, but many experts expect a positive impact.
If you are one of our clients, your portfolio has been built with tax reform in mind and we are continually monitoring the markets so we can make appropriate changes if needed. If you have any questions, call or email our office.
If your friends or family are concerned with so many potential swings in the markets, now is a good time for them to review their financial plan to see how their strategies may be impacted by this tax bill and whether or not it’s appropriate to make adjustments. We’re never too busy to help someone you care about, so feel free to put them in touch with our office. Click here to schedule an appointment online.
Philip A. Board MSFS, CFS, is a retirement planning specialist and the founder of 1on1financial, an independent comprehensive investment firm serving individuals and businesses near Upland, California. Through educational workshops and a non-sales environment, 1on1financial specializes in working with employees of Southern California Edison, UPS, Esri and Verizon.