The coronavirus pandemic upended schedules and normalcy for countless Americans, including many right here in Derby. Instead of little league games and vacations, Kansans social distanced and spent hours on the phone with the Kansas Department of Labor. Our spring routines were replaced with uncertainty.
Congress attempted to ease this burden by adding $600 per week in unemployment, sending Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans and their dependents, and postponing Tax Day.
Instead of the usual – and often dreaded – April 15, the filing and payment deadline is now July 15. Kansas followed suit, also moving the deadline to file state income taxes to July 15.
While the idea of examining your W-2s doesn’t sound like summer fun, it’s important to file and receive any refund owed. With so many taxpayers waiting to file, the number of refunds issued has dropped by almost 11%. That’s millions of dollars that could be in the pockets of hardworking Americans.
Additionally, Republicans in Congress worked to make every tax season a little more comfortable through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. Kansans are still benefiting from this landmark legislation that reduced tax rates, increased the Child Tax Credit and doubled the standard deduction.
A majority of Americans saw their taxes decrease. Unfortunately, according to a New York Times poll, less than 40% of Americans think they actually received a tax cut, thanks to repeated false messaging from Democrats that tax reform was detrimental to middle-class families. Instead, 82% of households earning $50,000 to $75,000 and 87% earning $75,000 to $100,000 received a tax cut, highlighting the benefit to many middle class families.
The increased standard deduction also allowed more Americans to save time. About 90% of Americans chose not to itemize in 2019, up from about 70% in 2018. And these changes were not detrimental to the federal deficit. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reported that tax receipts went up by $130 billion, or 3.9%, in 2019. It also didn’t dampen charitable giving.
So while the July 15 deadline may seem daunting, tax reform has made it a little easier, along with Free File options available at irs.gov. I won’t count on Tax Day becoming a favorite summertime holiday, but allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money should be a reason to celebrate regardless of the season.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.