When President Donald Trump talks about "promises made, promises kept," his pledge four years ago to cut taxes is usually near the top of the list.
Trump campaigned as a businessman and outsider who said America's prosperity was being hampered by a complicated and onerous tax code. So simplifying and slashing taxes emerged as a top priority.
"We have strongly capped deductions for the wealthy and closed special interest loopholes, the tax relief will be concentrated on the working and middle-class taxpayer," he said in a September 2016 speech to New York Economic Club, where he outlined the major elements of his tax cut promise. "They will receive the biggest benefit – it won’t even be close."
His promise focused on:
Simplifying the tax code by reducing the number of brackets from 7 to 3. The 3 new brackets would be 12, 25 and 33, and removing millions of low-income Americans from the income tax rolls entirely.
Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.
Allowing U.S.-based manufacturers to fully expense the cost of new plants and equipment.
Cutting from 35% to 10% the tax rate assessed on overseas interments.
Letting families fully deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents.
Allowing parents to enroll in tax-free dependent care savings accounts for their children or elderly relatives. Low-income households would benefit from both an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – in the form a Childcare rebate – and a matching $500 contribution for their savings accounts.
"This is a working and middle class tax relief proposal," he said at the time.
Months later, at Trump's prodding, the Republican controlled Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which amounted to the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in decades.
The bill, which incorporated ideas from congressional leaders as well, delivers on the promise of tax cuts – but not quite the "working and middle class" package Trump pitched as a candidate.
The key provisions of the legislation:
Keeping the number of brackets at seven but lowering the income ranges within each were changed so that most Americans are paying a lower rate. Other changes including increasing the standard deduction and family tax credits. and eliminating personal exemptions. But most of these changes expire after 2025.
The tax code was simplified to reduce the number of exemptions and deductions but whether that helped or hurt families depended on their personal situations.
The corporate tax rate was permanently cut to 21%.
The child tax credit doubled from $1,000 to $2,000 and a new $500 tax credit for dependents not eligible for the child tax credit was established.
The estate tax exemption doubled to $11.2 million for single filers and to $22.4 million for couples, which also expires after 2025.
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center projected that, in 2018, taxes would be reduced by about $1,600 for the average household.
While the bill helped average families, it steered the bulk of the relief to the richest Americans, especially those making more than $300,000. The largest cuts as a share of income will go to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of all earners, according to the center.
In addition, the breaks for the individual and estate filers sunset within the decade while those for corporations are permanent.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 also helped Trump with another campaign promise but hurt his ability to deliver on another one.
The measure is projected to add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade despite Trump's assertions that the law will pay for itself through the economic growth. So while the bill helped Trump deliver to a larger degree on tax cuts, it made his pledge to eliminate the national debt within eight years that much tougher.
But the tax bill also eliminated the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which could play a key part in GOP efforts to convince the Supreme Court to strike down the law as part of arguments next month before the high court. And repealing Obamacare was another key promise Trump made on the 2016 campaign trail.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump mostly delivered on 2016 campaign pledge to cut taxes