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The surprising winners and losers of the latest GOP tax bill

Who benefits most from the latest GOP tax plan? Who won -- and who lost -- in the last-minute changes? With the House poised to pass its tax bill on Tuesday, Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to analyze its impact and some of the surprising details inside.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Republican lawmakers have a major victory within their sights. It's expected that the U.S. House of Representatives will pass a tax bill tomorrow, likely without Democratic support, before sending it on to the Senate this week.

    Since the latest version was released, analysts and political observers have been looking closer to see who is benefiting more, who won some last-minute victories, who lost and the effect of it all.

    Our Lisa Desjardins has been studying it too, and she joins me now.

    So, Lisa, let's start out with the winners. Who's doing well?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All right, you look into this bill, you see a lot of different winners.

    Let's start with the two that most people know, corporations. Their tax is cut from 35 percent to 21. And the truth is, Judy, most families and individuals will see a tax cut, temporarily, for the first eight years here.

    Let's talk about some other ones that might not get as much attention, wealthy estates. Now, under this bill, someone could give a gift up to $11 million tax-free. That's a doubling of what they could do.

    And then, interesting, energy companies, not just because they can now drill in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, Judy, but there is a provision here allowing something called publicly traded partnerships, which are mostly energy companies, some with a lot of money, to take a deduction that used to be considered for small businesses. That's in this bill.

    Two more really quick I noticed reading through the bill, Judy, architects and engineers. Those of you out there, you will now be able to get a special deduction that you couldn't in previous versions of this bill. That was new on Friday.

    And craft beer brewers will see a deduction on the tax rate they pay per barrel at least for two years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Somebody likes beer.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, some of the winners.

    What about some of the losers, who are they?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. That's right.

    First, let's talk about future taxpayers. As I said, some of those individual rate cuts are temporary. In fact, most of the individual rate cuts, not just the rates, but also AMT, all of it is temporary in this bill for individuals.

    Second, cities and high-tax states, those — we talked about this before — they will get a small deduction for those local taxes, but not as much as they're getting now.

    Other losers, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico wanted a special tax treatment for various reasons, including that they have to rebuild infrastructure now. Didn't get it in this bill.

    And interesting, Judy, I noticed those paying alimony, they can deduct that currently. No more. That reverses. And now the tax benefit goes to those receiving alimony under this bill. That starts in 2019.

    One more, the individual health care market, Judy, obviously, we know that with the individual mandate repealed, might give more people the ability to not get health care, but it may destabilize the market.

    And I think, overall, one loser in all this, Judy, is the idea of simplifying the tax code. This is not simpler.

  • Judy Woodruff:


    And as we have been hearing them say, they say most people will still be able to file on a postcard, but there's a real question about that.

    What about the overall effects of this, Lisa? And separately from that, I know you have been looking at some of the members of the Senate who've made up their mind and decided what they're going to do.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    And particular in the news in the last day was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. It turns out that there's a provision in this bill that would help people who have real estate investment trusts called REIT. Some of our viewers may have them.

    Those would be able to be — get a deduction that again was meant mostly for small businesses originally. Some of these can be million-dollar trusts and they're operated without any employees. This bill allows people own those, like Bob Corker, to take that deduction. He's not the only one.

    There was a question of why he changed his vote from no to yes last week. Talking to his office, they say he had no idea this provision was in the bill.

    And I will say, Judy, in reporting this, there was erroneous reporting here that this was just dropped into the bill suddenly. There was the same kind of idea in the House bill. And the House said it needed to stay.

    So, there's a lot to explain there. Corker is not the only one who potentially benefits from this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But it's a reminder of how much happens behind closed doors that is not known until somebody brings it out, as Senator Corker did.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's exactly right.

    And it's interesting, because that's not the only closed-door thing going on right now. We have, of course, a lot of discussion about a potential shutdown that could happen at the end of this week.

    And a quick update on that, Judy. What we expect now is for the House to pass a continuing resolution, perhaps in the next day or two, that the Senate will reject.

    So, that's going to lead to a real face-off Wednesday or Thursday. But talking to sources on both sides, they think that there will be another short-term bill that gets to January.

    How they do it is very unclear, and we're going to need to watch very carefully over the next few days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Watch closely. And it just keeps on getting extended.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

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