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Show HN: Tax plan impact calculator (taxulator.com)
114 points by nsedlet 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

May I recommend http://taxplancalculator.com/ ? It takes in to account state taxes, which potentially can make a difference between a tax cut and a tax hike. It also shows you an estimate of your federal taxes under the current laws, so that you can ascertain its precision against last years returns.

Its author, Maxim Lott, is a journalist and has been tweaking the calculations over the past couple of weeks reflecting the latest changes in the bills. You may have seen his predictive markets analysis site [1] in the run up to 2016 US Presidential Election.

As a matter of disclosure, the author is a friend and I helped him debug a couple of small issues.

[1] https://www.electionbettingodds.com/

The linked site (taxulator) also takes state taxes into account if you select "itemized" deductions.

No matter what income I put for California, it always says:

"No impact from end of state and local deductions"

Same at $30k, $300k, and $1M. I don't think it's accounting for SALT at all.

You need to check the itemized deduction box

My bad, thank you. As expected, I pay a bunch more under both these plans.

And get a lot less. Hooray.

The problem with a lot of reporting on these tax “plans” is that it doesn’t take into account the massive cuts that’ll be needed once this thing gets passed.

That and any increases to health insurance costs due to repeal/uncertainty/etc wipe out any saving for most people.

But hey if I could lobby this easily to get my pet thing into a tax bill I would.

> It takes in to account state taxes

Wildly incorrectly. I live in WA and it overestimates my sales tax deduction by a factor of ten.

The AMT calculation is hard to use.

It also doesn't include the Senate's AMT change at all.

It doesn't seem to include PEP or Pease.

Doesn't have business income or capital gains, which is pretty important to have considering the contents of the GOP plan. The pass-through rates in the bills will have a big effect on small business owners.

Edit: The more I play with this, the more flaws I find. I work at a tax policy think tank and I've been involved with more than a few tax calculators, and this one isn't reliable. It fails basic tests, like applying the standard deduction if itemized deductions are less than that amount.

Second edit: Here's a tip. It's a lot easier to calculate marginal rates on income if you go through the brackets backward rather than forward. That way, you just check if income is >= the current bracket threshold. If yes, subtract threshold from income, add that multiplied by the rate to the running total of taxes owed, and move to the next bracket. Else, just move to the next bracket. Way easier than what you're doing.

Thanks for feedback. We will add the itemized v standard deduction minimizer soon. We thought we’d let user direct but I agree we should take the min and change that.

Re tax brackets, we are looking to add state tax soon so it is much easier not to hardcore the running totals. The computation time is insignificant but code is cleaner with our current method, IMO.

> It fails basic tests, like applying the standard deduction if itemized deductions are less than that amount.

Yeah, this is the difference between the calculator showing a $2K tax hike for me, and a $2K cut.

Where is a good tax calculator then?

This doesn't include Pease, which makes quite a difference.

I don't believe the AMT exemptions you're using are correct (although they are widely reported). The bill updates the "original" AMT amounts from 2012, which need to be inflation adjusted.

I made these accurate graphs that include everything. They also compute your state taxes for you.

Senate: https://jsfiddle.net/4ec6eLz5/ House: https://jsfiddle.net/bsjryfLo/

Thank you for feedback! Indeed we didn’t include Pease, and we will look to add that shortly.

Re AMT, When I read the bill my interpretation was that the new levels were the correct numbers for 2018 and increase from there. I’m certainly not a lawyer and relied on other ‘widely reported’ interpretations. Given how many reported things turned out to be at least moderately innacureatr when we did fact check them, it would not surprise me if you are right.

I really like your site and the graphs. The fixed property tax deduction seems like a limitation (I personally pay close to 2x your NY rate and have some friends who pay more) but it certainly does some things that we don’t, Pease included. Had I found your site a week ago we likely would have had to build our own!

We made our code available on GitHub so by all means feel free to contribute and improve it if you like!

You're right about the AMT. I misread the bill the first time.

This means the "40%" figure being thrown around is off, it's only a 30% reduction

It would be more useful if they made it clear what has been factored in here. As is mentioned elsewhere, the bills have to be reconciled, and there are significant variables remaining. The SALT deduction is still up in the air, as are the details around mortgage interest. For people in some states, these two details could swing things between saving thousands and paying thousands extra.

edit: should have included property tax, which is more of an issue than mortgage interest for existing homeowners.

Sorry about that. We need to add more info. The code is available on github. The latest info we could get our hands on. 10k cap on property tax deduction in both house and senate bill and no state income tax deduction in either. No change to mortgage deduction as current mortgages are grandfathered in under both plans.

It would be cool if the govt had to develop an open-source tax estimator whenever tax-change bills were introduced (or make modifications to some base tool). An iteration of a tax bill would be presented alongside the tax-estimator tool so that citizens and businesses could run real numbers through the hypothetical tax-changes.

Totally agree. And it could also show net impact to the deficit/surplus (yeah, right) across the whole population given the gov had all that data. Would be awesome.

All the calculations seem to happen here:


Cannot speak to the soundness of the calculations, but there looks to be a ton of guesswork involved, and it does seem fairly simplified in light of the size of the bills being considered.

On a dollar impact basis, there wasn’t much guesswork at all. What there was was a bunch of disparate contradictory sources online so we had to plow through that, given that reading through and internalizing the legislation (both old and new) was quite the bear. A number of folks have already made suggestions on github which is great (and appreciated).

I wish we had documented every hard coded number with a source but we only started doing that at the very end of project when we were reconciling different sources. We plan on documenting everything going forward with a source.

As the tax plan has not yet been finalized, I'm not sure what the use of this calculator is. You don't really know what your new taxes will be yet. I would wait until it is reconciled and signed to worry about that. YMMV.

If you want to influence the outcome of what is in the tax bill, then finding the thing in it that you don't like the most (and preferably it is in only in one of the bills) and advocating for that to be removed or changed is probably the most useful. Academia was up in arms about losing its special tax break on tuitions (only in House bill), got a bunch of press, and it looks like that might be left out in reconciliation.

Even though the bills are not finalized I think people would like to have an idea of what changes they may be facing, and it also benefits people who like to get informed before debating the issue with others.

This only tells me what would happen next year. What about 5, 7, 10 years out?

Working on it ;)

Stupid question: in all of those calculators, I never know if I should include my personal income or household income (including my spouse). Is it an obvious thing that everyone knows? as it's never in the (?) tooltip... in any calculator I found online (I'm an expat, so perhaps I just don't get the obvious)

If you file jointly as a married couple, you would include both. But if your spouse is a not a US taxpayer, then you'e likely not filing jointly. In that case, only your income would apply.

But take any of these with a huge grain of salt, because expats have very different rules to play by, including some generous exemptions.

Thanks! I meant as in - I'm an expat from a foreign country living in the US... :)

Expats have generous exemptions?

Currently US expats can exclude up to $102,100 of foreign earned income. However, you're still required to file US taxes if you're a US citizen. Doesn't matter if you were born overseas to American parents and have never been to America; still gotta file. The US is weird like that.

Oh, I thought you meant EU expats in the US.

Ah, I see the misunderstanding. Although I would note that if you are not a citizen or permanent resident, then I believe your foreign-source income is not subject to US tax. So for example if you had a home in another country that you rented out, that wouldn't be taxable in the US even though it would be for a similarly-situated US citizen.

Can't promise the IRS would see it that way. This is just something I'm not sure about, but my wife was an immigrant to the US and they weren't shy about asking her about foreign assets.

If you file married together, yes. If not, no.

This has an intuitive interface and computes quickly. With 2 competing bills in the House and Senate that haven't yet been reconciled and formalized, a calculator like this is never going to be perfect, but at least we can begin to see the implications these proposals could have on our tax liability.

Looking really good!

I recently started working on something similar: http://politisee.com, with a little different goal. Rather than calculate the net result for a single person, Politisee for a single person, Politisee tries to summarize and compare plans, and shed light on how they perform broadly to society (i.e. at all income levels). However I do plan to add the personal side too. For now I'll be linking to yours.

One of the challenges of the broad approach is getting everything into an apples-to-apples comparison. I'm definitely going to be taking some inspiration from your work.

Very nice tool. Added to PH: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/taxulator

I'll add the calculator I built: https://www.republicantaxcalculator.com. It takes into account state and property tax deductions as well as some of the other major changes. Github here: https://github.com/BrendanAndrade/taxplan

Maybe I'm just daft, but this tool is a bit confusing at first because I didn't realize it wasn't comparing the difference between itemizing now and taking the standard deduction under the new plan (and there isn't a way to do that without manually crunching the numbers). Or better said, it doesn't pick your best deduction under each plan like you would if you were actually filing taxes.

This doesn't account for SALT deductions it seems, which is a huge reason why instead of my bill going down by 10% or so, it goes up about 5%.

I think this calculator is counting "State/Local Income Taxes" as a credit instead of a deduction. Input a salary of $60,000 and a $6300 deduction into "State/Local Income Taxes".

$6300 was the single filer standard deduction amount from 2016. It shows different outputs when toggling between itemized and standard deduction.

I thought SALT and Student Loan deductions were eliminated? They're still listed here. Am I missing something?

The Senate and House plans do different things with these deductions (house eliminates, senate curtails) and it's not at all clear what will come out of conference.

The personal exemption is incorrect. It doesn't add the children into the total (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf), but you can enter it by hand. Also, Student Loan Interest is an above the line deduction (line 33 on 1040), i.e. you can deduct it regardless of whether or not you itemize.

Would like it to consider IRA/401k contributions.

Just put in the income net of deductible 401(k) contributions as "gross income."


There is a reason "gross" is in quotation marks. That subtraction is more or less accurate.

I have my 2016 tax return pulled up and filled everything out. It looks like I'll pay a few hundred more due to the State and Local tax deductions being removed. :\

Every calculator on here gives a different result though.

It is nice, could do with some better support for smaller screens. I enjoyed that the authors names shifted position when updating the page. Nice touch.

Is this calculator accurate? It seems everyone no matter the income seems to benefit somehow.

Or is it that Trump, like Reagan, is about to grow the US debt by untold amounts?

I'm not sure what the point of the Reagan debt reference is, Obama's eight years by far holds the record for the greatest public debt accumulation in US history, and that was accomplished just through sheer spending irresponsibility.

The US is heading toward trillion dollar deficits no matter. There's absolutely nothing that can stop that, unless someone wants to dramatically slash entitlements - which is never going to happen. You can't raise taxes on the rich enough to find $1 trillion in new revenue. To plug the hole with tax revenue, it'll be necessary to dramatically raise taxes on everyone in the top 50% income wise, matching what other advanced welfare states do in taxing the middle class a lot more by necessity to pay for entitlements.

The annual tax cut cost is going to be about $150 billion per year, roughly $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, assuming mediocre revenue gains from it. The eight Obama years added about $9 trillion in new public debt, and the US got absolutely nothing from that vast fiscal destruction (other than further eroded infrastructure, a mostly horrible healthcare plan, a trillion dollars in new student debt, zero gain in the median American net worth figure, and the greatest wealth gains in US history by the rich).

You can't actually think $150 billion per year matters any longer. It's dramatically beyond game over for the US fiscally. Nobody even dares to bring up the idea of paying down the debt now. It's the Japan debt scenario full steam ahead, $30 trillion in public debt by 2027 no matter what happens. That means permanently low Fed rates, because the US will never be able to afford the interest on $30+ trillion otherwise.

I'll take the 20% corporate income tax rate in exchange for the $150 billion per year cost (plus the big jump in the standard deduction); the $150 billion thrown onto the burning fiscal picture that started with the Bush years, got dramatically worse with the Obama years, and is going to continue through the Trump years, is simply meaningless at this point.

Ryan actually just announced entitlement reform is something they're going to attempt in 2018. It seems like it would be very difficult, but there is some chance that those will have substantial long term cuts.

As for the Reagan reference in the parent comment, that's sort of a common comparison to criticize Republican tax (and often defense) policy since the 80s. There is somewhat of a common trend of cutting taxes far more than spending and increasing military expenditures simultaneously. Bush was a much worse offender here though, with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Couldn't you determine my state income taxes from a state dropdown? Local could still be an addition for more nuanced municipalities.

I think the Married Filing Joint standard deduction for 2018 would be $13,000 under the current Code. Your comparison shows it as $12,700.

This is interesting, but how accurate is it?

Not very.

Interesting, but it really needs to include state taxes to be accurate or relevant.

There should be a checkbox for whether you are a graduate student or not.

This does not account for the massive increase in taxes that graduate students would have in the house plan. In the house plan tuition waivers of graduate students will become taxable and push them further down the poverty line.

It doesn't seem to consider state tax in the calculations.

Itemized deductions

i got different results between this calulator and the flu.io one. this one seems to appear much more favorable.

Feature request: choose a tax year

This doesn't account for the whole picture. The tax benefit is dwarfed in comparison to the losses in social security people at and below the poverty line will suffer.

I’m assuming you mean “social safety net”, not Social Security?

And are you just referring to the individual mandate change? Or are other big parts of the safety net changing from this bill?

(And yes, I understand the long-term policy and political implications, but I’m asking about specific immediate changes in this bill)

Republicans have stated they will be cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits after the tax cuts have passed “as they’re no longer affordable.”


If the health care costs in the U.S. were the same as the next most expensive OECD country, health care costs would be $1 trillion less. The trump tax cuts amount to $150 billion a year, so just by bringing health care costs in line with the second-most expensive country they could probably meet all of the shortfall without anyone needing to lose anything. It's possible to make smart cuts to medicare and medicaid spending without affecting quality of care or coverage.

Now, knowing republicans that's not how it will pan out though. They aren't known for making smart cuts, they typically reduce benefits/expenditure while keeping profiteering in place.

Perhaps because it’s meant to be a tax calculator, not a political scorecard.

Eliminating state and local taxes was a long time coming. Why should the no-tax states subsidize the bloated bureaucracy of CA/NY? It would be quite amazing if CA got rid of state income taxes though.

This tends to be a widely held misconception. It turns out that CA and NY pay more in federal taxes than they receive back in federal funds. It turns out that it's mostly the low tax states that take in more from the federal government than they pay. Here's one chart: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/which-s...

Well, sure - but CA and NY also have very high income levels: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP_per...

We have a progressive tax system, so rich states should be paying more than they receive in federal funds.

The more relevant question is how do the Atlantic's charts look once you correct for income levels? Given that CA's returns are barely less than 1, I suspect that CA is in a situation where the tax deduction is effectively allowing the federal government to subsidize the state.

Sure, but we're supposed to be creating a tax cut, not a tax hike. If you want to raise taxes to either reduce the deficit or create new government services that's fine by me. But instead this tax cut will go to cutting the taxes of the wealthy and increase the budget deficit. This will be paid for by states like NY and CA and won't help the tax system become more progressive.

I'm thinking about it in deducting state and local tax return. I pay $10000 in income tax. Some one in CA pays $10000 - $10000 deduction = $0 goes to the federal government if I am not mistaken. This is what I am talking about not the total contribution from each state.

If you are tired of paying state tax WA/TX/FL all have large liberal cities that have a good amount of STEM jobs...

That's not how income taxes work.

If $10000 is your tax liability, then a $10000 deduction is worth only your marginal rate * amount of the deduction, because a deduction reduces your taxable income prior to figuring out liability. (A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of a tax liability.) Assuming 25% bracket, then a $10000 deduction for SALT is worth $2500 off your federal taxes.

Because the "bloated bureaucracy" is providing vital services to its citizenry, boosting the state's economy and underlying workforce, and therefore boosting the taxes they ultimately pay, hence the fact of NY/CA taxpayers paying far more into federal government than they take out. Look no further than Kansas to see what happens to a state when you cut all local taxes, now its citizens are even more reliant on the federal government.

You forget about states like Texas, which have lots of people taking substantial property tax deductions.

This is a "soak everybody not wealthy enough to make substantial donations to us" plan, basically.

If anything, CA/NY subsidize many of the other states.

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