This past Monday was Tax Day, perhaps the least appealing day on America’s national calendar. This year, however, President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave Americans something to smile about.
Today, I am in the Miami area discussing tax reform and the positive impact the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) will have for Florida.
As many Floridians may have noticed, the average American tax burden was smaller than in the past. The typical family of four earning $73,000 in 2018 paid $2,000 tax than in previous years. According to the Council of Economic Advisors, the president’s business tax reform is estimated to increase average household income by $4,000 annually once the legislation is implemented and driving the economy forward.
Real wages and salary income increased nearly $900 per household between the fourth quarters of 2017 and 2018. In the four quarters following passage of the bill, nominal wages grew 6.5 percent for the bottom 10 percent of income earners. If Congress votes on the USMCA soon, this revamped trade deal will further boost the American economy. This means more money for retirement, your child’s education, or a long-delayed vacation.
The benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can also be felt locally, with Florida adding more than 250,000 jobs since passage of the bill. The tax cuts will help ensure continued growth for the Florida economy, which saw one of the fastest rates of nominal personal income growth in the country in 2018.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also included Opportunity Zone, a set of tax incentives for direct investment in new and small business, improved infrastructure, and rebuilding local economies in decline. The Federal Government has designated 8,764 Opportunity Zones across the country — covering nearly 35 million Americans — including 427 in Florida. Their average poverty rate is nearly double the national average and they are afflicted by an unemployment rate 1.6 times higher than the country at large.
Through the Economic Development Administration, the Commerce Department has awarded $13 million in grants to 22 projects in these new investment areas, laying the groundwork for greater business investment. The Minority Business Development Agency is promoting Opportunity Zones as a means for minority businesses to grow and attract private capital.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has already helped the U.S. economy reach the 3 percent real fourth-quarter-to-fourth quarter GDP growth rate the president promised, and it is laying the foundation for a more competitive U.S. economy.
Wages are finally growing again, and job openings have outnumbered job seekers for 12 consecutive months as of February 2019. The president’s policies are giving Floridians long overdue wage increases and letting Americans keep more of their hard-earned money.
As Americans filed their taxes this year, they did so knowing that President Trump is working hard to provide them with good jobs and higher wages. While paying taxes is never fun, the Trump administration has made great strides in lowering the government’s financial burden on Americans.
Wilbur Ross is the Secretary of Commerce.