Trump tax cuts trickle across America, bringing glee and skepticism

From Reuters - February 8, 2018

(Reuters) - President Donald Trumps $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, touted as major tax relief for individuals and corporations, is showing up in bigger paychecks and bonuses awarded to workers by companies whose tax bills are being slashed.

More than 200 companies, including Home Depot Inc (HD.N), American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) and AT&T Inc (T.N), are giving bonuses to at least 3 million U.S. workers, according to the conservative Americans for Tax Reform group.

Reuters has interviewed people around the country on the benefits they have received so far. While they welcome the additional income, the cuts have largely not changed individuals longstanding views on Trump or the two major political parties.

Here are their views:

- TIM SMITH, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Working two jobs to make ends meet, 61-year-old Tim Smith was happy to get a $400 bonus as a part-time worker at Home Depot thanks to the U.S. tax overhaul, but his dislike for Trump and his policies remains.

What can I do with that? Not a lot. Buy some groceries, maybe pay a bill or two. Thats it, said Smith, as he deposited materials for recycling at the Home Depot where he works. He figured that after taxes, the bonus netted him $280.

Home Depot last month announced it would give its hourly workers a bonus of up to $1,000 as a result of Trumps tax plan.

I did benefit, yes, but, I believe, in seven years, anything we get is going to disappear, said Smith, adding he believed the tax plan was a rip-off that would help the wealthy and add $1 trillion to the national debt.

Smith, who sports a long pony tail, lives with his wife in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Oakland Park, where he owns a home. Their two children are off to college.

He says the middle-class will eventually pay for the tax breaks, in cuts to programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

That moneys got to come from somewhere, and its going to wind up coming from the middle-class, said Smith, who made about $55,000 in 2017 from the two jobs he works.

A graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in history and political science, Smith said he moved to Florida in 1991 and took any job he could.

He has worked part time for Home Depot for 10 years, on top of working full-time at an aluminum processing company, which did not pay a tax-related bonus. Smith said he will probably work until he is 70.

Asked how he felt about Trump, Smith said: To be honest, I cant stand the man.

- WILL ORTEGA, San Antonio, Texas

Trump supporter Will Ortega, 32, was happy to see trickle-down economics in action when he got a bigger paycheck due to the tax cuts.

A supervisor at an infrastructure safety company, which controls traffic during highway renovation projects in San Antonio, Ortegas take-home bimonthly paycheck went up by $50, and he knew exactly what to do with it.

Lunch money, he said, sitting at his desk wearing his neon yellow work clothes. I was real careful with how I spent my money on food. Now its like if I want to go out to eat an extra day or not wake up early to make lunch, I dont have to worry about it.

Ortega, who lives with his girlfriend and their 1-year-old daughter, makes about $50,000 a year.

Im a firm believer in the trickle-down economics of it, he said. Im real happy that my boss got a tax break, given hes not a Fortune 500 CEO.

Ortega said his boss was investing back into the company, which benefited all the workers.

Hes making more money, and in turn, we just picked up two brand new trucks, so its a lot more comfortable for the guys to work in. Were also able to hire more guys and take some of the workload off us, he said.

When it comes to Trump, Ortega said he would vote for him again, despite his dislike of Trumps social media presence.

As a celebrity on social media, I think hes worthless and I cant stand him. As for the policies hes put into effect and the progress hes making, I couldnt be happier, he said.

- LIZ HAMMOND, Somerville, Massachusetts

An administrative assistant at a university outside Boston, Liz Hammond, 36, was skeptical the tax cuts passed by Congress in December would mean much for her financially. And then her paycheck rose by about $5 a week.

Ive seen a change. Its tiny though, Hammond said.

Hammond, who lives in Somerville with her boyfriend and cat, said she fears that the tax package will lead to cuts down the road in social spending programs.

I have friends who are on food stamps and disability and things like that, and we dont have a (federal) budget sorted out and I am terrified well lose these programs, Hammond said, adding that she would gladly have given up the tax cut if it protected those programs.

Hammond said she did not vote for Trump and was no likelier to vote for his re-election. The new law cut the federal income tax rate on her roughly $45,000 salary to 22 percent from 25 percent, a cut that is set to expire in 10 years.

When Ive finished paying off my student loans and start to accumulate money and maybe think about saving for a house, its not going to be there, Hammond said. I dont know anyone who is benefiting from this.

- JEFF ANDERSON, Lincoln, Nebraska

Jeff Anderson, a 33-year-old account manager for a software company in Lincoln, Nebraska, said he received a $1,000 bonus because of the tax cut, about $600 after taxes.

I was able to purchase a few things Ive been putting off, Anderson said. My computer was failing so I built a new one. I bought a few books. The remainder is in savings, just in case.

A registered Democrat who said the bonus represents less than 1 percent of his annual salary, Anderson describes himself as socially liberal, fiscally conservative.

Anderson lives with his wife in a modest brick home, where he spends his free time brewing craft beer, cooking, gardening and doinghome improvement projects.

Although Anderson did not read the tax cut legislation, he feels the benefits depend on demographics.


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