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Trust Index: Fact-checking Harris, Pence on tax claims in VP Debate

The subject of taxes and the tax plans both campaigns are running on is still a critical issue among voters, despite being overshadowed by the pandemic. We’ll start with a claim from Sen. Kamala Harris.

“Donald Trump paid $750 in taxes…we now know Donald Trump owes and is in debt for $400 million,” Harris said.

We’re calling both of these true.

It's True

We’ve reviewed information surrounding this topic and confirmed that It’s True.

What is the Trust Index?

The rating is based on extensive reporting from the New York Times which was able to review portions of the President’s taxes. The President has not released his tax returns publicly, but records showed, according to the Times, he only paid $750 during his first year in office. According to the reporting the Trump personally owes $421 million to lenders worldwide although does not detail who he owes every dollar to. Trump and his lawyer have refuted the reporting.

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Next there’s this claim that sparked a back and forth between Harris and Vice President Mike Pence on several occasions.

“Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year, he has been very clear about that.” Harris said.

This is true.

It's True

We’ve reviewed information surrounding this topic and confirmed that It’s True.

What is the Trust Index?

According to multiple statement made by Biden, he has pledged not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 a year. According to an analysis of his plan by the Wharton School of Business, the President’s alma mater, Biden’s plan doesn’t raise taxes until you get to the top 1 percent of earners.

We’ll take the next two claims from Pence at the same time because he’s touting the 2017 tax cuts as a whole.

“President Trump cut taxes across the board, despite what Senator Harris says, the average American family of 4 had $2000 in savings in taxes,” Pence said.

Both are broadly true but need more explaining.

It's True

We’ve reviewed information surrounding this topic and confirmed that It’s True.

What is the Trust Index?

According to both the Tax Policy Center and the progressive Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy the Trump Tax Plan from 2017 did cut taxes for every income bracket in 2019. However, the largest benefit went to large corporations and the top 5 percent of income earners.

On the savings, It appears Pence is using the TPC’s findings which show those making between $40,000 to $75,000 a year saved roughly $720 to $990 dollars per income. Assuming Pence’s definition of a family of four is a double income home like the majority of American households, that tops out at just under $2,000.

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