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Friday, April 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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What Donald Trump’s win could mean for the average consumer

By Jonelle Marte Tribune News Service

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump proposed sweeping changes that could have huge implications for the average American’s finances.

Since winning the election, Trump has yet to release many specifics about the policies he hopes to implement once he’s in the White House. But based on what he and other Republicans have proposed in the past, the Trump presidency could affect how much consumers spend on taxes, health care and other services.

Here is a roundup of what to expect, based on what Trump has said so far:

Lower taxes

Trump ran on a campaign that promised tax cuts for people at all income levels, but people at the top would benefit the most. Trump wants to simplify the tax code by creating three income tax brackets: 12 percent for couples earning $75,000 or less, 25 percent for couples earning less than $225,000 and 33 percent for people who earn more than that. (Under the current system, high earners are subject to the top tax bracket of 39.6 percent.) Under his plan, individuals would not owe taxes on the first $15,000 in income. According to the Tax Policy Center, his plan would cut the average tax bill by $2,940 next year, boosting after-tax income by 4.1 percent. Taxpayers in the top 0.1 percent of the population, however, would see their after-tax pay grow by 14 percent.

He also has called for blocking parents from claiming tax deductions for their children and for getting rid of the “head of household” filing status, which tends to benefit single parents.

Retirement savings

People saving for retirement may have seen a short-term boost to their 401(k)s because stocks have rallied since Trump’s election. But economists and investment analysts say markets could be volatile over the next several weeks as Trump shares more information about what policies he will implement. Most people should avoid making major changes to their portfolios, especially for money that won’t be needed until retirement, financial advisers say. People should base their investment decisions on when they will need the money, and not on the name of the person in the Oval Office. And, historically, there is no major change in how markets perform under a Republican president vs. a Democratic one. A review of the 3,000 largest U.S. stocks by Fidelity Investments found that stock markets gained about 12 percent a year on average under both parties.

Health care

Trump has said one of his first steps will be to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and with a Republican-controlled Congress, it seems likely that he’ll be able to revise the health law. It’s too early to know exactly what changes he would make, but there are some clues in what he and other Republicans have proposed in the past. For instance, Trump has mentioned that he would not require individuals to have insurance. Consumers could lose the insurance subsidies they receive now to help pay for premiums. But they may be allowed to deduct the insurance premiums they pay on their tax returns, which could lower the costs. He would also support a program that allows insurance companies to sell insurance plans across state lines, potentially expanding consumers’ options.

Housing market

If Trump’s proposed tax breaks leave consumers with more cash to spend, that could provide a boost to an already strong housing market. Even before the election, economists said they expect the home-buying season starting next spring could be among the strongest in years. First-time home buyers, including millennials, are feeling better about their finances.

The bigger question is what will happen to interest rates, and there isn’t a clear answer. Uncertainty over how the economy will fare under Trump could cause the Federal Reserve to push back the next interest rate increase, which is widely expected in December. But interest rates also could increase if investors become more concerned about increased government borrowing and inflation. Mortgage rates rose Thursday, with the average rate on fixed-rate 30-year loans increasing to 3.57 percent, up from 3.54 percent a week before.

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