Color of Money: Trump promised the tax-cut bill would be a great gift to middle-income Americans. A new poll shows many taxpayers want to return it.

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- Tax Day is now over, and many Americans say they didn't notice the "tremendous" tax break President Trump promised.

"This is going to be one of the great gifts to the middle-income people of this country that they've ever gotten for Christmas," Trump said in December 2017, just before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed.

But Trump's habit of hyperbole hasn't worked well in selling the tax cuts to the American people.

A new poll -- released by Gallup just before the April 15 tax deadline -- shows that more people disapprove than approve of the GOP-backed bill, which ushered in such major changes to the tax code as a doubling of the standard deduction. It also took away a lot of fan-favorite deductions, such as personal exemptions.

Gallup found that 49 percent of Americans dislike the overhaul, compared with 40 percent who approve.

"My income decreased by 30 percent during the last six months of 2018," one reader wrote. "The value of my taxable assets also decreased in the last part of 2018. In 2017, we owed approximately $130. We have been 'itemizers' for years. For 2018, we took the standard deduction, and we owe $1,180. So yeah, the tax changes that took effect in 2018 negatively impacted my family."


Gallup has been measuring attitudes about the tax bill since before its passage. And disapproval has always trumped the legislation's approval rating. Approval has been as low as 29 percent.

"Americans seem to have made up their minds about the law one year ago," Gallup said in releasing its latest poll data. "If the law is lowering their taxes, Americans aren't feeling it."

Not surprisingly, people's political affiliation impacted the results. Only 16 percent of Democrats approve of the law, compared with 78 percent of Republicans. The approval rating for Independents is 32 percent.

The problem isn't that many taxpayers didn't get a tax cut. It's that it was spread out in their paychecks over the year -- in amounts apparently not significant enough for them to notice.


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