The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center on Thursday handed out its annual Lump of Coal award for the worst tax idea of the year. The impressive list of nominees from TPC’s Howard Gleckman include:
* Seattle’s head tax on large employers to support programs that help the homeless, which Gleckman said could harm the city’s job market and possibly make homelessness worse.
* President Trump’s tariffs, which in the end are simply import taxes paid by American citizens.
* Deceptive PR campaigns by Big Soda in its fight against local taxes on sweet drinks.
* Tax breaks in Opportunity Zones that, while perhaps a good idea in theory, could end up being a “give-away for real estate developers and wealthy investors, including some of the president’s relatives.”
* The $2 billion in tax incentives provided by New York and Virginia to coax Amazon to locate its new headquarters in those states – “even though evidence shows these giveaways rarely pay for themselves.”
* The effort by blue state governors to have the new limits on state and local tax (SALT) deduction declared unconstitutional, despite a long record of Congress imposing such limits.
While that’s certainly an impressive list, Gleckman argues that one other tax idea from the past year stands out as truly the worst:
* President Trump’s phantom 10 percent tax cut for the middle class. Offered in the heat of the midterm political campaign, the promised tax cut for regular people never materialized. Yet despite the idea’s dubious provenance and prospects, it received extensive coverage from policy experts and the media. For that reason, Gleckman declares that President Trump must share his lump of coal with those who, “like mice on a wheel,” chased after it as if it had been a serious proposal.