While President Donald Trump has touted his tax plan as being good for all Americans, many of his constituents aren't convinced. Only 29% of American adults see the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as "mostly positive" for their family, while 33% said it would not have much effect, and 27% said the effect would be "mostly negative," according to a new Pew Research poll.

The findings, of course, break down along party lines with 52% of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents picking "mostly positive," while only 13% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning respondents feel that way. Conversely, 42% of Democrats believe the new tax code will have a "mostly negative" impact on their family, while only 7% of those whose votes lean Republican felt that way.

Both groups were similar when it came to picking "not much effect," with 32% of Republicans selecting that choice compared to 35% of Democrats. Those numbers may be the most important as they show just how little the public knows about the impact of the actual law and whether it will hurt them, help them, or not impact them at all.

Tax forms are shown along with a calculator.

The tax code will change this year. Image source: Getty Images.

When it comes to whether the new tax code will help the country as a whole, thoughts again break down along partisan lines. Republicans and Republican-leaning voters in the poll were overwhelmingly confident that the new plan will be "mostly positive" with 71% of them feeling that way. Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters feel roughly the opposite way with 63% of them believing the revised tax code's impact will be "mostly negative."

The differences are not just partisan

But it's not all about parties. According to this poll, lower-income families have the most negative views of the tax plan, with only 22% of those making less than $40,000 a year believing the new rules will help them while 32% believed they would have little impact and 33% believed the impact would be negative.

People making $40,000-$74,999 a year were slightly more positive, with 26% believing the changes would positively impact their family and only 26% believing it will hurt them. The real tax code bulls, however, are those with a family income of $75,000-$99,9999. That group had 44% believing the impact would be positive while 30% expected no impact, and only 19% expect the impact to be mostly negative.

Those making $100,000 or more, however, weren't quite as bullish. That group was more positive than the two lowest income categories, but only 38% expect a positive impact while 35% expect none, and 20% believe the impact on their family will be negative.

What does this mean?

What's very clear is that many of the 1,503 adults surveyed for this report are answering at least partly based on ideology and belief rather than fact. My Motley Fool colleague Matthew Frankel recently broke down how the new code would impact Americans in three different groups using average stats.

  • A single filer who reports $31,630 of average gross income (AGI).
  • A married couple with one child filing jointly and reporting AGI of $122,073.
  • A head of household whose household includes one adult and two children and who reports AGI of $37,197.

Filing Status

Old Tax Law

New Tax Law

2018 Change

Single

$2,671

$2,165

Cut of $506

Married filing jointly

$10,735

$10,066

Cut of $669

Head of household

($100)*

($1,968)*

Cut of $1,868

Data source: IRS, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and Matthew Frankel's calculations. Figures in parentheses indicate negative tax liability. *Negative tax liability because the child tax credit is refundable.

The caveat is that these are the 2018 numbers. For the filers above, the parts of the code that lower their tax rates expire in 2025, after which many -- specifically households making between $50,000 and $75,000 -- would see a tax increase.

The jury is still out

Personal income taxes are only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to whether the new tax code benefits your family. The real answer to the questions asked by Pew will be determined at least in part by what corporations (which got a permanent tax cut) do with their newfound money. Until that is known, any answers about whom the new tax code will benefit -- at least in the long term -- are purely speculative.

 

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