[size=37]“In Congress Ron DeSantis pushed a 23% national sales tax.”
Former President Donald Trump talks to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a March 29, 2019, visit to Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike at Canal Point, Fla. (AP)
By Amy ShermanMay 16, 2023
Pro-Trump PAC says DeSantis pushed 23% national sales tax in Congress, omitting key details
IF YOUR TIME IS SHORT
- While in Congress, DeSantis was one of multiple co-sponsors of the Fair Tax Act in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
- The Fair Tax Act would add a national sales tax in lieu of other federal taxes including income tax. It has been repeatedly proposed for two decades in Congress.
- DeSantis has not called for the Fair Tax as governor.
A TV ad by backers of former President Donald Trump portrays Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a fan of raising taxes on the middle class.
"In Congress Ron DeSantis pushed a 23% national sales tax where the middle class pays more," said an ad by MAGA Inc., a pro-Trump political action committee.
The ad said DeSantis’ plan would increase taxes on nearly all U.S. families, while "President Trump cut taxes a lot, lowering tax rates for everyone."
The ad refers to the Fair Tax Act, a measure DeSantis co-sponsored in Congress.
We fact-checked a similar and slightly more misleading attack on DeSantis in 2018, when he first ran for Florida governor.
The current attack repeats the playbook by leading with the high sales tax number and leaving out a key offset: the "fair tax" would eliminate other federal taxes.
DeSantis has not mentioned the idea in years. While this ad aims to draw a line between Trump and DeSantis, a political action committee supporting DeSantis fired back with a video of Trump talking about the "fair tax" over the years.
In 2015, Trump repeatedly floated the idea but didn’t commit to it. "Now you could go to the fair tax, the flat tax; there's a lot of things you could go to," Trump said on MSNBC.
Other times, Trump was more critical of the idea. In a 2015 Republican presidential debate when asked about a flat tax, Trump said if someone makes $200 million a year, that person pays "very little, relatively, to somebody that's making $50,000 a year."
Although the finger-pointing draws a lot of attention, in truth, neither politician is looking to hike taxes.
When DeSantis supported the idea
The idea behind the Fair Tax Act is to introduce a 23% federal sales tax that would replace other federal taxes. The bill would eliminate income, estate, payroll and gift taxes, as well as the Internal Revenue Service.
The Fair Tax Act has been introduced in Congress repeatedly since 1999, earning support from some prominent Republicans along the way, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Haley and Trump are declared 2023 presidential candidates; DeSantis and Pence have not yet entered the race.
stated on May 24, 2023 in a Twitter Spaces event
“There's not been a single book banned in the state of Florida.”
By Matthew Crowley • May 30, 2023
DeSantis co-sponsored the Fair Tax bill in 2013, 2015 and 2017, often in tandem with dozens of Republicans. (The bill is still kicking in 2023, too.)
"From a policy perspective, I think the IRS is really past its point of usefulness," DeSantis said on Fox News in 2013. "I think we need to move to a fair or flat tax and give the government less power."
At the time, Republicans were scrutinizing the IRS over how it handled applications for tax-exempt status from some conservative groups.
DeSantis did not push the national sales tax plan as a gubernatorial candidate, and there is no evidence that DeSantis has called for it while approaching a bid for president.
How the Fair Tax Act would affect taxpayers
Taxpayers might look at the flat 23% tax and compare it with the income tax rate of their tax bracket — as well as payroll taxes — and think it’s a nice deal, said John Buhl, a spokesperson for the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
But by removing most federal taxes, the policy also removes deductions and credits, such as the child tax credit.
The Fair Tax Act’s critics say that this would be a regressive tax plan, under which poor and middle-class families pay more than wealthy households. The sales tax would apply to every purchase, while state sales taxes sometimes exempt certain items.
"Implementing the Fair Tax would likely result in higher taxes for the middle class and lower taxes for wealthier households. The only question is what the final numbers could look like," Buhl said.
A MAGA Inc. TV ad said that "in Congress Ron DeSantis pushed a 23% national sales tax."
DeSantis co-sponsored Fair Tax bills three times while in Congress. Those proposals would set a national sales tax and replace other federal taxes, including income tax.