The Tax Cut and Jobs Act Will Become Law - with Negative Impact on People with Down Syndrome and other Disabilities
Today, Congress passed The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA)
. The President will be signing it into law shortly. The opposition to this bill from the national disability community, including National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), was widespread. (See opposition letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities here - http://www.c-c-d.org/fichiers/CCD-Confernce-Tax-Opposition-Letter_12-13-17-Senate-final.pdf
). Thanks to your stellar advocacy efforts, the final bill restores some important tax provisions for people with disabilities, such as medical expense deduction, work opportunity tax credit, disabled access tax credit, and the low-income housing tax credit. Unfortunately, the final bill repeals the Individual Mandate in the Affordable Care Act on which many people with disabilities rely and will cause a huge increase in the deficit. Virtually all people with Down syndrome and their families may be faced with drastic cuts in services and changes to Social Security and Medicaid because of the $1.5 trillion deficit increase caused by this bill.
This bill does not directly attack entitlements -- Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security. However, Speaker Paul Ryan and other Congressional leaders have asserted that entitlement reform will begin next year in order to address the $1.5 trillion dollar deficit that will result because of the TCJA. (See https://www.cbpp.org/blog/gop-budgets-statements-make-plans-clear-costly-tax-cuts-for-wealthy-now-program-cuts-later
Our next battle will be to protect the funding that is essential for individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable populations from the drastic cuts that will be proposed in the name of "entitlement reform" to address the increased deficit caused by the tax bill. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-republican-tax-bill-was-the-easy-part-the-next-debate-could-be-much-uglier/2017/12/19/a9c94e2c-e4df-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html?utm_term=.4ee09e60dd1e
Another area of concern in the TCJA (Section 11024) is the amendment to the ABLE Act called the ABLE to Work Act (S. 818/HR 1896). Currently, aggregate annual contributions to an ABLE account are capped at the federal gift tax limit ($15,000 in 2018). The ABLE to Work Act allows an individual or families to increase this aggregate annual contribution limit to the ABLE account to the lesser of the income earned above the federal gift tax limit or the federal poverty level (currently $11,770), which is positive. For funds accumulated up to the annual contribution limit, ABLE program administrators are required to include safeguards to reject and return contributions that exceed this amount. The ABLE to Work bill specifically has language absolving the ABLE program administrators from having to provide these safeguards for annual contributions that exceed $15,000. Further adding to the complexity of the ABLE to Work Act is the fact that it is being touted by certain proponents as a way for an individual to place his or her earnings (from a job) in the ABLE account and be protected from the SSI earned income limitation. This is not true and is misleading, increasing the vulnerability of ABLE account holders to loss of benefits. (See CCD's Financial Services Task Force letter http://c-c-d.org/fichiers/ABLEtoWork-Act-Concerns-(Final-LH).pdf
opposing the ABLE to Work Act as a provision that will weaken - instead of strengthen - ABLE accounts).
The next challenge in preserving services and benefits for people with disabilities will be hard fought. Strong advocacy from people with Down syndrome, family, friends and other allies will be crucial. Join NDSC's grassroots network
, the National Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition (NDAC), to increase our ability to impact important legislation and make our voices heard.
We encourage you to stay engaged in our advocacy efforts by: (1) Registering for NDSC Action Alerts- click "Quick Sign Up" (http://www.ndsccenter.org/political-advocacy/take-action-stay-informed/); (2) Subscribing to the NDSC Policy & Advocacy Newsline (http://www.ndsccenter.org/stay-up-to-date-with-ndsc-news/) and (3) "liking" us on social media (https://www.facebook.com/dsadvocates/