President Trump’s signature tax overhaul delivered savings to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and his new husband compared with what they would have paid under previous rates, a review of the couple’s 2018 return shows.
That was the first year for the Trump tax cuts and the first time Mr. Buttigieg filed jointly with husband Chasten J. Glezman Buttigieg.
The married millennials’ income represents the upper end of earners Republicans touted in 2017, when House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the bill “will deliver real relief for people in the middle and people who are also striving to get there.”
“Everybody’s talking about the middle of the country like it’s some mysterious place, and I think it might make sense to have somebody in the mix who actually lives here,” Mr. Buttigieg told CNBC. “I actually live in a middle-class lifestyle in a middle-class neighborhood in the American Midwest.”
The Buttigiegs had a joint 2018 income of $152,643, $112,000 of which came from Mr. Buttigieg’s salary as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. That put them between the middle class and upper middle class, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
The other top-tier Democratic candidates are multimillionaires, including two multibillionaires. In June, Forbes estimated Mr. Buttigieg’s net worth at $100,000.
The Washington Times examined the Buttigiegs’ 1040 IRS Form and consulted with three tax professionals. They applied the same 2018 income with the old rates to see what the couple would have paid without the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Under the new tax law, the Buttigiegs took advantage of an increased $24,000 standard deduction. The old deduction for couples filing jointly was $12,700. Plus, they would have taken two personal exemptions worth $8,200. That would have taken deductions to about $21,000, so they gained about $3,000 in deductions. The new tax law eliminated the personal exemption in favor of raising the standard deduction.
In taking the standard deduction, the Buttigiegs did what the law was intended to do: simplify tax preparation by eliminating itemized deductions and form Schedule A.
They also enjoyed the law’s lower tax rates by income bracket: They paid $20,136 in taxes on $128,630 in taxable income in 2018.
Under the old law, their taxable income would have been $131,843, requiring $24,379 in taxes. The couple saved $4,243 in taxes.
The Times assumed the old $12,700 standard deduction based on a review of Mr. Buttigieg’s 2017 return as a single filer. It shows he has deductible mortgage interest and local property taxes combined of about $5,000. The couple, who live in South Bend, paid about $7,000 in state income taxes in 2018, taking itemized deductions about equal to the standard deduction of $12,700 under the previous law.
Buttigieg campaign spokesmen did not dispute that the candidate benefited from the new law. A spokesman said that, if elected president, Mr. Buttigieg plans to repeal two components of it.
“Our plan is not to repeal the whole TCJA but rather just items that benefit corporations and the top 2%,” the spokesman said. “So, e.g., TCJA’s standard deduction change and the middle-class rate changes are not touched by Pete’s tax plan.”
Mr. Trump cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.
Other top-tier Democratic candidates — Bernard Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joseph R. Biden — say they plan to repeal the entire 2017 tax law.