Smaller refunds in the first few weeks of the current tax season were shaping up to be a political problem for Republicans, but new data from the IRS shows that the value of refund checks has snapped back and is now running 1.3 percent higher than last year. The average refund through February 23 last year was $3,103, while the average refund through February 22 of 2019 was $3,143 – a difference of $40. The chart below from J.P. Morgan shows how refunds performed over the last 3 years.
The Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers, was established in 1975, with nominal claims of about $1.2 billion ($5.6 billion in 2016 dollars) in its first year. According to the Tax Policy Center, by 2016 “the total was $66.7 billion, almost 12 times larger in real terms.”
“The health care services that rack up the highest out-of-pocket costs for patients aren't the same ones that cost the most to the health care system overall,” says Axios’s Caitlin Owens. That may distort our view of how the system works and how best to fix it. For example, Americans spend more out-of-pocket on dental services ($53 billion) than they do on hospital care ($34 billion), but the latter is a much larger part of national health care spending as a whole.
Despite the Republican tax overhaul, businesses aren’t significantly increasing their capital expenditures. “The federal government will have to borrow an added $1 trillion through 2027 to pay for the corporate tax breaks,” says Bloomberg’s Mark Whitehouse. “So far, it’s hard to see what the country is getting in return.”
Roll Call reports that trade, infrastructure and health care issues including prescription drug prices “dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year.” Here’s Roll Call’s look at the top lobbying spenders so far this year: