TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

NY Times: Trump’s Tax Cut One Year Later — What Happened?

New York Times, Trump’s Tax Cut One Year Later: What Happened?:

There was a point in early 2018 when big American companies couldn’t stop talking about the Trump tax cuts. Flush with the projected savings from a $1.5 trillion law, they promised to raise wages, hand out bonuses to workers and invest in big projects. They scored headlines, along with applause from President Trump.

The fawning faded quickly. Analysts noted that the handouts to workers amounted to a relatively small share of the roughly $200 billion in federal income taxes that corporations avoided thanks to the cuts. Wages across the economy ticked up, but not by nearly as much as some Republicans had promised when they voted for the law. Capital investment surged at the start of the year, but the rate of growth fell sharply in the third quarter.

Stock buybacks by publicly traded companies continue to set records. They neared $200 billion in the third quarter for S&P 500 companies. Goldman Sachs analysts have predicted that the total amount of buybacks across the economy could top $1 trillion for the full year.

Some workers did reap rewards from the law, as many companies followed through on — and even exceeded — their promises to raise wages and pay bonuses. Yet other firms have announced layoffs, despite reporting higher profits and billions of dollars in tax savings.

While the long-term effects remain to be seen, the evidence so far does not suggest the sustained investment and productivity growth boosts that Republicans and supply-side economists predicted. Many economists, including those at the Federal Reserve, are cutting their growth forecasts for 2019, in part because of the waning effect of the tax cuts.

Here’s a look at what companies promised and what has come to pass as we head into Year Two of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


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