Georgia voters are broadly suspicious of President Donald Trump’s signature accomplishment in his first year in office: the package of $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that Republicans will take to the campaign trail for midterm elections this year.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows only about one-third of voters approve of the legislation that delivered a major tax cut to corporations and other incentives for many individuals. About 45 percent disapprove of the package, while nearly one in five voters is uncertain or didn’t answer.
And the poll of 940 registered voters shows residents are nearly evenly split on the impact of the tax cuts. About one-third believe their taxes will increase, one-third think they will decrease and one-third say they will stay the same.
Georgians are almost as divided over the impact of the tax cuts. Roughly one in three voters said it will have a positive influence on the economy, while nearly 40 percent said it will be a drag on the nation’s business climate. An additional 20 percent said it will make no difference.
The tax overhaul, signed by Trump in December, was the GOP’s biggest legislative victory of his presidency and will likely be at the center of November’s midterm elections, when Republicans try to defend their slim majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.
It cuts the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and temporarily reduces individual tax rates across the board, though those cuts are set to expire in 2025. The standard deduction will almost double, as will the tax credit for children.
But a new limit that caps state and local tax deductions at $10,000 means that some people, particularly those in higher-tax states, will see heftier bills.
The AJC poll, conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, mirrors national surveys showing voters are cool to the legislation. And it illustrates the challenges ahead for Republicans, even in a state Trump won by 5 points, to sell the cuts to voters after a seven-week sprint through Congress.
‘The everyday people’
Many Georgians were uncertain — or downright pessimistic — about the measure’s impact.
Amryn Soldier, a Suwanee school administrator, predicted her taxes will increase by at least 5 percent in part because of her income level and her lack of tax credits for children and dependents.
“When our own taxes increase, that’s ridiculous because there’s not much of an increase in wages,” said Soldier, who said she makes $35,000 to $40,000 a year.
Venita Turner, a medical recruiter in Buford, ticked through some of the highlights of the topsy-turvy debate over the legislation as it hurtled through Congress to the president’s desk in less than two months. She said some of the more onerous provisions were taken out, but she worries the biggest benefits are going to large corporations.
“It’s not going to Middle America. It’s certainly not going to the poorest Americans,” said Turner, 49. “And if you’re not paying attention to Middle America, it’s going to drain the economy. It’s going to hurt the people who drive the economy, and that’s the everyday people who are buying things.”
The supporters of the plan often echo Trump’s confidence in trickle-down economics. Thomas Little, who runs a trucking business in Johns Creek, said the cuts are precisely the type of government actions that can shore up the company.
He called it a “watered-down” job — he said business shouldn’t be taxed at all — but that it’s a start.
“It incrementally will put money back into the pockets of taxpayers and will stimulate small business,” said Little, 51. “That’s what creates jobs that people want to work.”
“We’ve got to pay’
Georgians were deeply divided along partisan lines over the tax cuts. Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters approve of the overhaul, while only 30 percent of independents and a small fraction of Democrats back the idea.
Liberal and moderate voters were also more likely to fear their taxes would increase — or at least stay the same — under the new law. A plurality of conservatives, meanwhile, said they thought their taxes would take a dive. Some simply took a wait-and-see approach.
“I’m impartial to it. We’ve got to pay our taxes,” said Rivers Carroll, a 38-year-old restaurant manager from Cobb County. “I can’t imagine my taxes will be that much different for me this year until they change them again.”
Trump supporters were overwhelmingly behind the plan. Three-quarters of voters who cast ballots for him in 2016 said they believed it will improve the nation’s economy, while almost the same proportion of Hillary Clinton backers said it will hurt the U.S. business climate.
Some of the backers trumpeted it for another reason: It abolished the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which required that most people buy health coverage or face tax penalties. Irma Jones of Decatur said the tax cut was a “hardship” on small businesses that forced her insurance premiums to triple.
“That’s unfair to balance it on people and entrepreneurs,” she said.
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Staff writers Mark Niesse and Maya Prabhu contributed to this article.