Point of View: It's almost Tax Day and the news is good
Tax Day is a significant day for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Since January, I’ve been able to hear from Oklahomans about how the tax changes affected their families and small businesses, but soon we’ll see the final numbers.
Some national media have done all they can to find problems, and since no one likes paying taxes, it’s not hard to find negative stories. But there are some undeniable facts. Wages are up, unemployment is down and business investment is up. The economy has added over 3 million jobs since the tax cuts passed. Wages and take-home pay also increased by over 3 percent.
Oklahomans let me know they appreciated the increase in the child tax credit and the doubled standard deduction. A man and his wife in their early 30s from Oklahoma City told my team their saving this year will help pay off their student loans and a car loan. A married farmer with two kids from Jackson County was able to use the Qualified Business Deduction and child tax credits to reduce their tax burden by $3,300. One young couple from Edmond with about the same income as last year will owe about $4,000 less than last year thanks to the doubled standard deduction — and this family also paid the Obamacare penalty for the last time this year thanks to the repeal of the individual mandate.
In fact, those in the lowest tax brackets benefited most because of wage growth and lower tax rates. The latest IRS numbers show that tax returns are almost exactly the same size as last year, contrary to previous national media reporting.
Small businesses like a Muskogee irrigation components manufacturer and a dry cleaner in Enid reported a lower tax burden and positive economic activity bolstered by the changes in the tax code last year. After the tax bill passed, Express Employment Professionals was able to provide a $2,000 bonus to more than 200 nonexecutive employees. In March 2018, Webco Industries in Sand Springs reportedly gave $1,000 and $2,000 bonuses to employees based on their longevity because of their tax savings. Business investment has also reached 7 percent after inflation, which means more efficiency and more manufacturing.
More jobs, higher salaries and greater opportunities are direct economic responses to an improved tax code. Basic government requires some taxes, but when people can keep more of their own money and spend or save it as they choose, the economy grows and people have employment options. There is still work to be done in the tax code, but the first year of the new tax changes have shown a positive effect on Oklahoma and the nation. Let’s keep the economic engine running.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator.