Sen. Susan Collins’ recent commentary about why she supported the just-passed tax bill confirms that she did not read and understand the bill, that she lacks basic common sense, or both.

She repeats the misleading party spin that the standard deduction is nearly doubled, to $24,000, and that a family with $24,000 in income will pay no taxes. She forgets to note that the law also eliminates the personal exemption. Under prior law, in 2018 the first $25,450 of income earned by a married couple with one child would have been excluded from tax; for married parents of three, the first $33,750 earned would have been excluded. So for many families, the $24,000 excluded from taxes under the new law is less than the total exempt under the old law.

She talks about the 72 percent of Mainers who use the standard deduction, but ignored that the 28 percent of Mainers who itemize deductions are homeowners who pay 80 percent of the federal taxes in Maine. She goes on to state that a childless Maine married couple earning $60,000 will save more than $900 in taxes. That is correct — their tax cut would be $914 — but only if they don’t itemize deductions. Of course, she ignores that a significant number of Mainers who earn $60,000 a year own a home and itemize deductions. Assuming a modest home in Portland and average itemized deductions, that $914 tax cut winds up being just $298.

She says that married parents who earn $60,000 and have two children would get a tax cut of about $1,700. Again, this is true only under certain circumstances: If the children are both under age 17 and the couple does not itemize deductions. If their children are both over age 16 and the couple owns this modest home in Portland, their tax cut would be just $125, not $1,700.

I estimate that 15 to 20 percent of taxpayers who currently itemize deductions will get a tax increase. For example, a married couple with typical itemized deductions who live in Portland, earn $110,000 and recently purchased a home would see a $437 tax increase in 2018. Just like Collins, I can cherry-pick examples to prove my argument. I know of many taxpayers, all of whom itemize deductions, who will have tax increases — with the worst case being a $10,000 tax increase. The tax plan was devised to pay for some of the tax cuts for non-itemizers with the tax increases on itemizers.

The Joint Committee on Taxation just completed its analysis of the individual tax changes, and the average tax cut for all taxpayers earning up to $100,000 is $359 each in 2019. That number goes down each year through 2026. In 2027, these taxpayers will average a tax increase of $274. There are winners and losers, but no good, consistent tax policy in this tax plan. There is a very small group of big winners, all of whom are very wealthy, but Collins forgets to talk about them.

She also touts her getting the $10,000 state and local tax deduction into the bill. What she doesn’t tell you is that this is worthless to middle-class homeowners in Maine, because the increase in the standard deduction likely will deter 95 percent of Mainers who currently itemize from continuing to do so. The vast majority of the small benefit from this $10,000 deduction will go to those earning more than $350,000 a year. She also fails to tell you that because 95 percent of Maine homeowners will no longer get any tax benefit from owning a home versus renting one, the value of the average home in Maine is likely to go down 10 percent, or more than $20,000, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The more important point is that it is impossible to get a “real tax cut” if the bill is not revenue neutral. All that some Americans are getting is a loan, which must be paid back by either you or your children and grandchildren. Which brings us to the deficit; Collins ignores it or tries to claim, using voodoo economics, that the bill will pay for itself.

She needs to read and understand the audited federal government financial statements for fiscal 2016. Because most people do not deal with trillions and billions of dollars, you need to eliminate eight zeros from the figures in the federal audit to put them in a format the average person is familiar with.

In 2016, U.S. revenues were $33,453 and expenses were $44,044, or a deficit before debt payments of $10,591. So we could pay only 75 percent of our costs, and we had accumulated debt of $659,924. Why we would want to cut our revenue when we already have revenue equal to only 75 percent of our current costs and we have debt equal to 20 times our annual revenue? Only a senator lacking basic financial common sense —nv or, worse, one who cares more about her wealthy donors than about average Mainers — could support this tax law.

Albert A. DiMillo Jr. of South Portland is a retired certified public accountant and former corporate tax director.

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