FactCheck.org has published a report on the Republican Party’s Pledge to America and has criticized a number of "dubious factual claims." Check out their commentary on a number of tax provisions below, courtesy of the Tax Prof.
Pledge, page 14: Unless action is taken, a $3.8 trillion tax hike will go into effect on January 1, 2011 that will unravel these policies. A family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year will have to pay $2,900 more in taxes in 2011.
Fact: True, but misleading. What the Pledge fails to note is that Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress have consistently promised to extend the Bush tax cuts for all families making less than $250,000 a year, and singles making less than $200,000. It’s true that hasn’t happened yet, but the reason is that several House and Senate Democrats are agitating to extend the cuts for everybody, even those with the highest incomes.
Congress might yet fail to extend most or all the cuts before they are scheduled to expire next year. As we reported in a Sept. 3 Ask FactCheck itemon this issue, there’s always a possibility that Congress will grind to a halt in a stalemate. And sure enough, on Sept. 23 Senate Democrats announced they would put off any vote on extending the cuts until after the election. A spokesman for Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said, "Democrats believe we must permanently extend tax cuts for the middle-class before they expire at the end of the year, and we will."
Pledge, page 14: [Obama] also wants to raise taxes on roughly half of small business income in America.
Fact: This is an exaggeration. Republicans are equating "net positive business income" reported on individual returns with "small business income," which isn’t correct. They rely on a report from the nonpartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (p. 12), which estimated that about 3% of taxpayers who have any business income on their personal returns would see a tax increase under Obama’s proposal, and that those 750,000 taxpayers account for about half of all the business income reported.
But some of that income is from big businesses raking in tens of millions of dollars a year. The JCT stated quite clearly that "These figures for net positive business income do not imply that all of the income is from entities that might be considered ’small.’" Some in fact are quite large, and those big businesses account for a good chunk of that income.
The JCT said: "For example, in 2005, 12,862 S corporations and 6,658 partnerships had receipts of more than $50 million."
Republicans do have a point here. Many small businesses and some large fraction of small-business income will be adversely impacted by raising the top rate on individual taxpayers.
The fact is, though, that the JCT couldn’t estimate how much of the total business income was accounted for by "small" businesses, or how many of the 750,000 individuals affected own "small" busineses. What we do know is that a good deal less than half the small business income, and something less than three percent of small business owners, would be subject to higher taxes.
Pledge, page 28: Roughly 16,500 IRS auditors, agents, and other employees may be needed to collect the hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes levied on the American people by the new health care law.
Fact: This is simply not true. As we reported last March, this figure "stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation." For an eye-opening account of how Republican staff members of the House Ways and Means committee came up with this inflated figure, see our Ask FactCheck item posted March 30. Most of what the IRS will do under the law is hand out tax credits, not collect penalties.