Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump proposed slashing taxes for Americans and corporations alike on Monday in his most specific policy proposal to date.
Trump pitched his tax cut with a populist angle, saying it would take 75 million households – including single individuals who make less than $25,000 and couples who make less than $50,000 – off the federal income tax rolls and cut deductions used by the wealthy to pay for the overall reduction.
The code looks like it would lower taxes on lower-income Americans, but without more details – namely on the earned-income tax credit – it’s unclear how the numbers add up.
It also wasn’t immediately clear how much the plan would cost or what percentage of its gains would go to the ultra-wealthy, who are poised to benefit from many of its provisions – especially lower top rates and an end to the estate tax.
“It’ll simplify the tax code; it’ll grow the American economy,” Trump said at a press conference with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower, not once addressing how he’d pay for a tax plan that on its face looks to be wildly expensive. More modest tax plans from candidates like Jeb Bush are estimated to cost trillions over the next decade.
Trump said this policy reform was in his “wheelhouse,” but unlike his usual rambling, freestyle press conferences, Trump read from prepared notes to explain his plan. Though more specific than a lot of Trump’s past policy proposals, Monday’s announcement was devoid of specifics on feasibility or how Trump thinks he could get this plan enacted into law.
For businesses, Trump’s plan reduces business income taxes to 15% and discourages corporations from sending their headquarters and cash abroad to dodge U.S. taxes, encouraging repatriation with a one-time tax discount for companies that come back home.
“No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop,” Trump said, “will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes.”
The proposal seems like it’s aimed at appealing to the populist pockets of his party, though Trump disagreed with the idea that he is populist.
“No, I’m not,” Trump said. “I’m a man of great common sense.”
Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said he felt is was “consistent with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” the litmus test his group, Americans for Tax Reform, uses to judge tax policy and guide conservative lawmakers, because Trump says it does not include an overall, net increase of taxes.
“This bill a reform, not a tax hike,” Norquist told msnbc in an email.