We rate this statement as Mostly False.

“A middle-income family of four in Pennsylvania’s 7th District will see a tax cut of more than $5,100.”

Pat Meehan
In a press release
Nov. 06, 2017

PA congressman’s bad math on middle class tax break

No matter how you define “middle income,” Congressman Pat Meehan’s tax cut projection doesn’t add up.

Pat Meehan

Full Statement

“A middle-income family of four in Pennsylvania’s 7th District will see a tax cut of more than $5,100.”

Our Analysis

Congressman Pat Meehan voted yes on the House’s recently passed tax plan last week. He’s a major supporter. In fact, he said the families in his 7th District of Pennsylvania, located in suburban Philly and farther out into Lancaster and Berks counties, will get substantial tax cuts.

“A middle-income family of four in Pennsylvania’s 7th District will see a tax cut of more than $5,100,” he said in a recent release on his website.

Analyses of the tax cut plan have suggested short-term tax cuts for middle-income families. But is there any evidence to illustrate a middle-income household would see a tax cut of greater than $5,100?

A spokesperson for Meehan responded to a PolitiFact request by forwarding the message to an employee of the Ways and Means Committee. The employee did not respond. We wanted to ask where Meehan got his estimate and what he considered to be a middle-income family in the 7th District.

This part of Pennsylvania is wealthier than the United States as a whole and the rest of the state. According to Census data, its median household income is $85,811.

There’s no consensus definition for middle income or middle class. Some experts suggest middle class is the middle fifth of the income ladder. Others would recognize it as all households, except for the lowest fifth and highest fifth. Pew defines it as anywhere from two-thirds to double median income.

Such a definition leaves a wide range of numbers for what could be considered middle income in the 7th District: anywhere from $56,000 to $171,000 using Pew’s definition; $35,000 to $200,000 using all but the lowest and highest income quintiles; and $100,000 to $150,000 using the middle quintile.

Though 92 percent of American households are expected to see lower or the same taxes under the House plan in its first year, it’s difficult to ascertain how a typical 7th District family would see a $5,100 tax cut under the House plan, by any definition of middle income.

The left-leaning Urban Institute outlined year-by-year cuts for families across all income levels. Households making between $48,000 and $86,000, it projected, would see an average savings of $840 in the first year of the plan. For those making between $86,000 and $149,000, it would be $1,590. Under the most liberal definition of a middle-income household for the 7th District, about $200,000, the projected average tax cut would be somewhere between $2,300 and $2,570. In less granular projections, the right-leaning Tax Foundation estimates a middle-income family in Pennsylvania would save about $2,300 over 10 years.

“That seems quite high,” the Tax Policy Center’s Joe Rosenberg said of Meehan’s estimate. “Obviously the effects of the bill will differ across families depending on whether they itemize deductions now, how many kids they have, what age their kids are or say if they’re eligible for a child tax credit.”

Under the House plan, for instance, families will no longer be able to apply for state and local deductions but could see savings from family and child tax credits.

The tax savings are projected to taper off after a few years. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the share of households receiving a tax cut compared to the current plan by 2027 is 80 percent.  

No projection for Pennsylvania families or national families estimated a $5,100 tax cut or greater for the middle class. The only mention of a $5,100 tax cut we could find was from a year ago, from Trump’s original tax plan. That plan’s average savings for all income groups combined — not just the middle class — was $5,100 for the first year. The average savings for all income groups combined under the House plan is $1,180, according to the Urban Institute.


Our Ruling

Congressman Pat Meehan said “A middle-income family of four in Pennsylvania’s 7th District will see a tax cut of more than $5,100” under the House’s tax plan.

The 7th District features a wealthier population than the rest of Pennsylvania and the United States, meaning families will benefit more from the plan than the typical middle class. Some families at the highest end of what could be considered middle-income in the 7th District might even save thousands and over a period of years could save over $5,100. But it’s unlikely middle income families of the 7th District would receive greater than a $5,100 tax cut, particularly in the blanket fashion stated by Meehan. Their savings would likely be substantially lower, according to projections, though savings will vary family to family based on previous deductions and credits.

We rule the claim the Mostly False.

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