When U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter appeared Wednesday before the Golden Isles Employer Committee, one of the issues he came to talk about was the Republican House-led Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but after several comments regarding the law’s changes to W-4 forms — and the effects of those changes — he didn’t have specific answers readily available.
A number of people mentioned problems with estimating yearly income for employees on commission, and how to properly break that down to make sure to withhold the proper amount of money. Carter reiterated that the goal of the bill was to make the process simpler for most filers.
“We have made an honest attempt to make it, as I said earlier, more fair, and more simple,” Carter said. “With the standard deduction, for a lot of people, they’re just going to take the standard deduction, instead of having to itemize.”
On its website, H&R Block provides a summary of what to expect for next year.
“Employees will not be required to complete a new W-4 in accordance with the new TCJA,” according to the explanation. “However, this would be a good opportunity to review your W-4, to take into consideration any changes in your life that have taken place since the last time you completed your W-4.
“Although personal exemptions have been eliminated, your filing status and any dependents you have will still play a major factor in the amount of tax you will owe, and are still relevant in determining your withholding amounts. Determining the allowances to claim on your W-4 has always been a complicated matter, but has become even more so with the TCJA updates.”
Earlier in the meeting, Carter said the tax legislation helped spur economic growth during the second quarter of this year.
“We’ve got one of the lowest unemployment rates we’ve had in decades, and in some sectors, we’ve got the lowest unemployment rate that we’ve ever had in the history of this country,” Carter said. “Consumer confidence is as high as it’s been in many, many years, so the economy’s really doing well. And, we did that through tax reform, through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
He later added, “The latest figures that we have for growth have been excellent — last quarter, the second quarter of the year, the growth rate was up to 4.1 percent. That’s what we need.”
The sustainability of that growth is in question, however. NPR reported July 27 that while most economists believe the second-quarter bump is due to the TCJA, that growth is not expected to last into the third and fourth quarters of the year. Also, experts pointed to a large push in exports, to try to beat out tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, as another contributor to the second-quarter numbers.
Carter also addressed legislation that deals with the opioid crisis, in which he and his colleagues on the House Energy & Commerce Committee were heavily involved.
“We’ve got to address the situation, and we have been addressing it in my subcommittee,” Carter said.
He noted that members of Congress took a significant number of bills that passed his subcommittee and consolidated them in a larger piece of legislation.
“That bill is H.R. 6, and hopefully the Senate will take care of that before we get back after Labor Day,” Carter said. “If they’ll take care of it, then we can go to conference and get it on the president’s desk and get it signed into law.”
The bill, which passed the House 396-14 on June 22, makes a number of changes to state Medicare programs, “alters Medicare requirements to address opioid use” and deals with other opioid-related issues, according to the congressional website. Details on the bill are available online at bit.ly/2MzgVGA.
“(Addicts) need to be healed and we need to help them on that way, to their way of being healed,” Carter said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”