Canadian ski cross athlete Dave Duncan says he wants to set the record straight about what happened the night he, his wife and Willy Raine were arrested over a car theft during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Duncan, in an exclusive interview with CBC Sports, is breaking his silence about the incident that captured international headlines as the Games in Pyeongchang were winding down. The 36-year-old paints a very different picture about the circumstances surrounding what had been characterized as a drunken joyride.
"This incident obviously happened in an environment that allowed it to be magnified," Duncan said. "Headlines are sensationalized. We were all just trying to get home that evening. I had no reason to believe we were doing anything wrong or inappropriate."
On Feb. 24 — the second-last day of the Olympics — Duncan and his wife Maja were fined one million South Korean won ($ 1,176) for their roles in the theft of a red Hummer.
Raine, the ski cross high performance director within Alpine Canada, was also fined five million won ($ 5,880) for his involvement, which included driving the stolen vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.16, well above South Korea's legal limit of 0.05. For context, Raine's blood-alcohol level at the time of the incident was twice the Canadian limit of 0.08.
The trio spent about 24 hours in jail and did not participate in the closing ceremony. It was considered by many as a dark cloud hanging over Canada's historic performance at the Winter Olympics.
But Duncan, who is announcing his retirement, explains they had no idea they were stealing the vehicle in the first place.
Duncan shares his side of what happened at the Olympics
He said a group of Canadian ski cross athletes were celebrating their Olympic achievements in a private room at a local bar when a driver with credentials from International Olympic Committee befriended them.
"He showed us his credentials and said he was a fan of Canada and what we've done and that if we were looking for a ride home, to get in touch with him and then he'd take care of us," Duncan said.
They tracked the man down around midnight and took him up on his offer, he said.
"He escorted us out to the vehicle in question. We loaded in and then he led us to believe that we could take the vehicle and leave it at the Athletes' Village for collection the next day," Duncan said.
"There was no reason to believe that we couldn't trust this person."
Duncan said he, his wife, Raine and an assistant coach got in the Hummer. Duncan said they dropped the assistant coach off at another Olympic House party before making their way to the Athletes' Village. Police stopped them as they approached.
"It wasn't until we were pulled over that we found out that that vehicle was reported stolen," Duncan said.
"I was kind of in disbelief that we were in this situation to begin with. I thought at some point everyone might realize that there was a big misunderstanding and that would kind of be the end of it."
Reconciling what happened
The Duncans issued a written apology after the incident that said they were deeply sorry and "engaged in behaviour that demonstrated poor judgment and was not up to the standards expected of us as members of the Canadian Olympic team or as Canadians."
Duncan stands by that apology and said it's been a long process reconciling what happened that night.
"I guess what I've struggled with since this all happened is knowing that if I'm in that same situation again I'm probably making the same decision," Duncan said. "There was no reason to question what was going on or taking that vehicle that evening."
Duncan said he has not been in contact with the IOC regarding the credentialed person. That the IOC has not been in contact with him either, he said.
Duncan said he doesn't know the man's identity.
As for the alcohol consumed that night, Duncan admits to having a few beverages but said he had no idea Raine was intoxicated.
"We had no indication that he had had too many drinks that evening," Duncan said about Raine, whose mother is Nancy Greene, a Canadian skiing legend and retired B.C. senator.
"I want to believe that had I not been drinking, there might've been something I picked up on that would have led to to us avoiding the situation."
Ongoing legal issues in South Korea
Initial reports said the Hummer, which belongs to Yong Gil Ahn, was stolen while it was idling outside to charge the battery after it died.
Ahn said he went into a building for a coffee while he waited and called the police after he realized it was gone. It took officers about an hour to call him back saying they found it.
At the time, Ahn said the Canadians were responsible for damaging his Hummer and was wondering who was going to pay for it.
Owner of car stolen by <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamCanada</a> Dave Duncan & coach Willy Raine. Says no one has apologized to him or offered $ for damage <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/0TJovCmRNH">pic.twitter.com/0TJovCmRNH</a>
Some of the damage the owner of this vehicle says was caused by Canadian athlete and coach when it was stolen. Bumper pushed in. <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/rtmw85Q0Ut">pic.twitter.com/rtmw85Q0Ut</a>
Duncan said there was no damage done to the vehicle. He and his wife are trying to have the car theft fine removed. He said they have another upcoming court date in South Korea.
"We have legal counsel in Korea helping us with all of this," Duncan said. "We don't feel we're guilty of the charge so we're going ahead and doing our best to fight it."
'This incident will not define me or my career'
Duncan is retiring from the sport he loves after three Olympic Games. That's why he's talking — he doesn't want this one incident he said was taken out of context to be how he's remembered.
The London, Ont., native finished in eighth in ski cross in Pyeongchang, improving on his 24th-place finish at the Sochi Games in 2014.
"This incident will not define me or my career," Duncan said. "I've prided myself on doing things a certain way my entire life and avoiding the crazy lifestyle. I think my teammates would describe me as quite bland and even boring from that side of things."
Duncan said it's been a long process trying to get over the maelstrom that followed the incident. He said he's received a lot of nasty messages and emails since it happened, and that he's been working through it all with the help of a psychologist.
It's been a reflective past eight months for Duncan as he ends his career.
"I want to view this as out of character but when it happens you know you start to question yourself. Am I the person that I think I am? And ultimately I have to rely on my lifetime of decision making and experiences over this.
"I would call this one-off an outlier."
Justin Theroux certainly loves his puppies — so much so that he even makes sure to bring them with him to press junkets!
Recently, ET’s Nischelle Turner caught up with Justin Theroux and his Spy Who Dumped Me co-stars while they were promoting the upcoming action comedy, and the handsome star introduced the cameras to his adopted pit bull, Kuma.
“Well, she’s a sweetie,” the star gushed as his cute puppy came out to chat.
Theroux, 46, couldn’t have been more in love with his canine companion, and he even took to Instagram a few days earlier to share some snapshots showing Kuma asking some tough questions during a prior press day.
“Fur real, how is this even pawsible?!” Theroux captioned the hilarious photo of his huggable pit bull sitting across from him in a mock interview. “Dogged journalist Kuma hounding me by barking ruff and dograding questions at The Spy Who Dumped me press day. #sloppyjournalism #barknews! #farfetchedstory #Pupcornmovie #ughpunsihatemyself.”
The actor, who adopted his precious pit bull back in June, also shared some photos to his Instagram story, giving fans a look at his candid canine conversation, which appeared to consist of hard-hitting questions about America’s foreign policy under President Donald Trump, as well as chasing squirrels and cake.
Speaking with ET two days after posting the cute pics, Theroux joked that Kuma has a different interviewing style.
“Kuma asks hard-hitting political and global questions, and this is sort of more fun,” Theroux said, laughing. “Kuma is just more direct. She’s more sort of 60 Minutes style.”
Theroux has long been a very vocal puppy enthusiast, and has frequently used his platform to act as an animal advocate and activist.
After announcing his split from Jennifer Aniston back in February, the actor finally broke his social media silence to share photos from his visit to a nonprofit group in Texas called Austin Pets Alive, to promote the no-kill shelter.
In fact, Theroux loves his furry friends so much, the star even has a massive back tattoo in remembrance of two of his late pit bulls, which he revealed during a live recording of Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness at the New York Vulture Festival in May.
Check out the video below for more on the actor’s body art tribute to his beloved pups.
The Spy Who Dumped Me — which also stars Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon and Sam Heughan — hits theaters Aug. 3.
Jordan Peele’s win at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday was a big deal — and he knows it.
The 39-year-old multi-hyphenate became the first black writer to win Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, but as he explained to reporters backstage after collecting his statuette, the history-making win was more than individual accomplishment.
“I almost never became a director because there’s such a shortage of role models,” he confessed, adding that through the challenge of shooting Get Out and the “grueling” campaign process, one image stuck with him. “When the nominations for this came together, I had this amazing feeling of looking at the 12-year-old who hd this burning in my guts for this type of validation, and I instantly realized that an award like this is much bigger than me.”
“This is about paying it forward to the young people,” he insisted. “You’re not a failure if you don’t get this, but I almost didn’t do it because I didn’t believe there was a place for me.”
The Key & Peele star went on to note that Whoopi Goldberg’s 1991 acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost served as an inspiration for him to go after his dreams. One of the first things he did after receiving his Oscar nominations was call Goldberg to thank her, and he hopes that his achievement at Sunday’s awards show serves as similar motivation for those who come after him in this “renaissance.”
“I hope this inspires more people to use their voices,” he expressed.
As for what’s next for Peele, he joked after seeing reporters raise numbers auction-style to ask him questions, “If there’s a Get Out 2, it will take place in an awards show.”
“It might look something like this,” he cracked, before taking a moment to share his appreciation for his Oscars experience.
“What’s been the most beautiful part about this for me is all the full circle moments of meeting heroes. [Best Actor winner] Gary Oldman has been my favorite actor… I got to sit down with him outside and we shot the sh*t!” he marveled. “These are moments that are priceless, and I’ll take them with me forever.”
See more on Peele in the video below.
Shannon Elizabeth already misses the Celebrity Big Brother house!
ET caught up with the 44-year-old actress just moments after her live elimination from the CBS show on Friday, where she got candid about being the third contestant booted off.
“I didn’t want to be here,” Shannon explained to ET’s Brice Sander, alluding to the fact that she was hoping she would still be in the house, playing the game. “They just — they all turned on me. They all stabbed me in the back, and they saw me as a threat. Unfortunately, some of them actually don’t know the game, and I think I could have been a really good ally. The offer I made to them was gold and they still didn’t take it, so… good luck to them!”
The former American Pie star said that the fast-moving pace of the game “definitely impacted” how she decided to play.
“Normally in a real season, I would have thrown the first bunch of competitions — I never would have come out swinging,” she said. “But because it was going so fast … my boyfriend and I talked long about strategy and he’s like, ‘You need to go for it because maybe it will give you a chance, in the beginning, to create those alliances if you’re the first head of household, because it’s a short season.’ So, I tried! It just didn’t… that [gift bag] twist messed me up, too, for sure.”
Shannon, a longtime fan of Big Brother, said that although she came into the game with some insight, there were still some surprises “in terms of how hard it is from the inside to figure out what’s going on.”
“As far as the teams and the strategy and what’s happening behind your back and how hard it is to change a conversation when someone walks in,” she explained. “Like, we always talked about, ‘OK, have another conversation ready so when somebody enters the room, you just switch to it.’ But that was really hard and I didn’t do very good with it and nobody did good with it, so you get very paranoid every time you walk in any room. Or I would talk to somebody as a friend, just, like, not even talking game, and somebody would see it and think, ‘Oh, they’re talking game, they must be aligned.’ So, it’s like, ‘Ah! You cant talk to anybody in here.’ How are you supposed to be friends with anybody? So, that was really difficult.”
Midway through our interview, we revealed to Shannon that she had one vote in her favor: Brandi Glanville.
“Oh really?” Shannon reacted, seemingly surprised by the vote. “OK, interesting. Well, I guess she was… I figured they’re just lobbying for the jury vote at this point. Somebody must have said something because they weren’t thinking about it much, until now.”
Now that Shannon has been evicted from the house, we, of course, had to ask her who she thinks could take it all, if she were to make her final vote right now. “Metta World Peace,” she exclaimed. “Metta’s an awesome guy. He was my friend in the house. He stayed out of all the backstabbing and controversy and he’s just a really good man, you know? He’s a really good person.”
Shannon will still get to place her vote at the end of the season but still hasn’t decided yet on what exactly she’ll be looking for as the remaining contestants continue to play the game, while she watches at home.
“Some of it will be gameplay, strategy, see if somebody’s really calling the shots and making moves,” she revealed. “Some of it might be emotional. It really depends who the final two are, you know? I don’t know yet. Because I’ve seen people vote for various reasons, and I wanna watch everything before I decide what I’m gonna do.”
Well said, Shannon!
Celebrity Big Brother airs on CBS.
To step out of a taxi or off a bus onto the streets that lie in the shadow of the burnt-out Grenfell Tower is to enter another world. A realm of hurt. The unlucky live here. The haunted.
The neighbourhood, which lies in the heart of London, feels cut off from the rest of the city, as if hacked away by the mark of tragedy and the pain of those who say they feel shunned for having the audacity to rebuke so publicly, so messily, a government response they call indifferent.
“We all feel like we are on the brink of a breakdown,” said Samia Badani, who watched Grenfell Tower burn on June 14 in a fire so ferocious it claimed the lives of 71 people, including 18 children.
“I live just next to the tower. And it’s almost as if I don’t see it. Or I block it out. But it’s there,” she said. She fears the day when reality will come crashing in on her and others still unable to comprehend the enormity of what happened that night.
In the meantime, Badani and others who live in the neighbourhood say they feel they can’t move forward. They’re trapped in a limbo, like the little stuffed animals and other tokens of sympathy still wedged into walls and railings along the streets, now tattered and worn.
Time is leaving them behind. Two employees of the nearby Co-op supermarket stand outside with baskets wearing Santa hats. But it just seems wrong.
“It’s like reality is different,” said Badani. “We don’t have control of time because weeks and weeks we don’t see a difference.”
“And the chaos after the fire, this constant state of crisis, meant that we never had the time to try and heal. And we really need the support, and we feel like we are begging.”
Badani is on a list, along with others, waiting for counselling, but is quick to say the needs of the survivors are greatest.
Anger but also determination
Despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge that they would be re-housed within three weeks, six months on, four out of five Grenfell households remain in temporary housing, with some families living in hotel rooms.
Some acknowledge they are afraid to accept offers of temporary housing for fear they’ll remain there instead of in permanent homes, where they will be able to start rebuilding their broken lives.
Anger with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the local council, pulses through the neighbourhood.
“One of the things a lot of the survivors have said is that they feel they are coming to the authorities with a begging bowl,” said Judy Bolton, who lost three close friends in the fire.
If there is pain and anguish here, there is also anger and determination.
Bolton, a nurse, is one of the activists running a group called Justice4Grenfell. She and others have thrown themselves into the fight for answers and accountability from the council, which is one of the wealthiest in the United Kingdom.
“We’re trying to keep going, but essentially what is needed, the two main things, are safe accommodation, housing, and also dealing with the trauma and bereavement. Both were woefully slow in coming. In fact [they still are],” she said.
Bolton lives in one of the nearby high-rise blocks almost identical to Grenfell. She’s on medication to help her sleep, she said, because she’s begun suffering flashbacks.
“I close my eyes and all I can see is the sky red,” she said. “We recently had Halloween with bonfire night and everything. And it broke me, smelling the smoke and the fire. And you know, I want people to have normality, to enjoy life, to have their bonfire night.”
Some buildings in the neighbourhood have signs tacked up asking people not to take photographs of the tower.
“Dear Visitor,” they read. “What you see is the site of our great loss. Please act with respect and hold our loss in your mind. Please. No photos.”
The dark husk of the tower is unavoidable, its presence oppressive. Rows of blackened windows look like hollowed eye-sockets. Every now and again, a ghostly figure appears in white, masked and hooded: forensic investigators.
Scotland Yard has said its investigation into the fire will consider potential charges of manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, public misconduct and breaches of fire safety legislation.
But it won’t start questioning potential suspects until it has finished a reconstruction of the spread of the fire, and that could still take months.
More buildings with flammable cladding
Meanwhile, the British government confirms that 285 tower blocks across the country have been found to have flammable cladding, just like Grenfell.
But there is currently no regulation requiring a local council or a private owner to remove it, and the ministry responsible could not answer the question of how many tower blocks are indeed having the cladding removed.
It all adds to the sense among locals that nothing has changed, despite all the lip service at the time of the fire.
Today’s memorial for the victims of the fire at St Paul’s Cathedral involving the prime minister and the royals will likely help some residents feel less forgotten by the outside world.
And a ray of hope lies in the fact that the tragedy has drawn the community closer together, empowered by the knowledge that they’re taking care of their own through support groups they’re organizing themselves.
Samia Badani knows the Grenfell survivors and their neighbours have become inconvenient truths for some of the authorities, judged and labelled as something they know they’re not.
“It’s almost as if you live in this neighbourhood, regardless of how successful you can be, you are labelled as someone from social housing! Even if you own your property! It’s like for 20 years, we’ve been put in a small box,” she said. “Something tragic happened to us, but attitudes haven’t changed.”
Despite all that, Badani, Bolton and many others say they won’t walk away until they achieve some form of justice for the victims of the fire.
“I don’t know if it’s guilt that night that I couldn’t help,” said Badani. “But walking away now without having something positive [emerge from the event] feels like a betrayal to all those people, to all the victims of the tragedy.”
They arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his Friday sermon from atop the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 worshippers, many of them Sufis, inside.
When the violence finally stopped, more than 300 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 injured.
As the gunfire rang out and the blasts shook the mosque, worshippers screamed and cried out in pain. A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms. Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows.
Those who survived spoke of children screaming as they saw parents and older brothers mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts. Some marveled at their narrow escape from a certain death. Some families lost all or most male members in the massacre.
So composed were the militants that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.
A grim milestone
Friday’s assault was Egypt’s deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. Al-Rawdah Mosque was in a sleepy village by the same name in Egypt’s troubled northern Sinai, near the small town of Bir al-Abd.
A statement by the country’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attackers, some masked, numbered between 25 and 30. Those without masks sported heavy beards and long hair, it added. Clad in military-style camouflage pants and black T-shirts, one of them carried a black banner with the declaration of the Muslim faith — there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.
‘Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you got shot.’– Ebid Salem Mansour, attack survivor
The banner matched those carried by ISIS, which has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
They also torched seven cars parked outside the mosque that belonged to worshippers, the statement added.
The chief prosecutor’s statement was the most detailed account given by authorities and it generally agreed with what witnesses told The Associated Press on Saturday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where some of the wounded are hospitalized.
“We knew that the mosque was under attack by [militants],” said witness Ebid Salem Mansour, recalling the intense gunfire. Mansour, a 38-year-old worker in a nearby salt factory, said he had settled in Bir al-Abd three years ago to escape the bloodshed and fighting elsewhere in northern Sinai. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his legs on Friday.
“Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you got shot,” he said. “The shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate. Whoever they weren’t sure was dead or still breathing was shot dead.”
The militants were shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great, as they fired at the worshippers and the children were screaming, Mansour added.
“I knew I was injured but I was in a situation that was much scarier than being wounded. I was only seconds away from a certain death,” he said.
Amid the shooting many worshippers recited their final prayers, he added.
Friday’s attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of a mystic movement within Islam. Islamic militants, including the local ISIS affiliate, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi vowed that the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt would persevere with its war on terrorism. He did not specify what new steps might be taken. On Saturday, he ordered that a mausoleum be built in memory of the victims of Friday’s attack and cancelled a visit to the Gulf Sultanate of Oman that was scheduled for next week.
The military and security forces have already been waging a tough and costly campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai, and Egypt has been in a state of emergency since April. Across the country, thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on suspected Islamists as well as against other dissenters and critics, raising concerns about human rights violations.
Seeking to spread the violence, militants over the past year have carried out deadly bombings on churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. The ISIS affiliate is also believed to be behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people over Sinai, an incident that crippled the country’s already ailing tourism industry.
Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s. The death of so many civilians in one day recalls the killing of at least 600 in August 2013, when Egyptian security forces broke up two sit-in protests in Cairo by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president ousted by the military the previous month.
Another witness to Friday’s attack said worshippers tried to jump out of windows as soon as the militants opened fire.
“The small door that leads to the corridor for the washrooms was about the only one where worshippers rushed to escape,” said a 38-year-old government employee who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation.
“There was a stampede. I fell down and then bodies piled up on top of me,” he said.
Campaign of violence
The local ISIS group affiliate has targeted Sufis in the past.
Last year, the militants beheaded a leading local Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, and posted photos of the killing online.
Islamic State group propaganda often denounces Sufis. In the January edition of an ISIS online magazine, a figure purporting to be a high level official in the Sinai affiliate of the group vowed to target Sufis, accusing them of idolatry and heretical “innovation” in religion and warning that the group will “not permit (their) presence” in Sinai or Egypt.
Millions of Egyptians belong to Sufi orders, which hold sessions of ritual chanting and dancing to draw the faithful closer to God. Sufis also hold shrines containing the tombs of holy men in particular reverence.
Islamic militants stepped up their campaign of violence in northern Sinai after the military ousted the elected but divisive Morsi. Authorities followed up with a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group, jailing thousands.
The result has been a long, grinding conflict centred on el-Arish and nearby villages and towns in north Sinai. The militants have been unable to control territory, but the military and security forces have also been unable to bring security, as the extremists continuously carry out surprise attacks, mostly targeting outposts and convoys.
The attacks have largely focused on military and police and, more recently, Christians. Hundreds have been killed, although exact numbers are unclear. The militants have also assassinated individuals the group considers to be spies for the government or religious heretics. Egypt has also faced attacks by militants in its Western Desert.
In the meantime, Carell is focused on the work ahead of him — and getting his daughter off to college.
“She’s excited about it. It’s a big step,” he shares of his daughter preparing for college, noting that she’s not sure where she wants to go yet. “She’s keeping her options open.”
As for what she may do after, Carell says he and wife Nancy would support their kids in whatever they choose.
“Whatever they want to do,” he says. “We’d support them whatever career they’d want to choose. I’d never dissuade them from anything.”
U.S. President Donald Trump wants the American working class to take his word for it when it comes to who would benefit from his administration’s plans for tax reform.
“It’s not good for me. Believe me,” the billionaire president told a crowd in Indiana on Wednesday.
Yet tax policy analysts beg to differ.
They say the nine-page wish list omits big details such as specifics on income thresholds for three or possibly four new tax brackets, the potential size of an increase to the child tax credit, and details about business tax provisions. That makes it difficult to determine to what extent the long-awaited plan would help the middle class.
What does seem certain, they say, is the plan would benefit Trump personally in at least two ways — by getting rid of the estate tax that hits only the wealthiest Americans, and by bringing the top rate down to 35 per cent from 39.6 per cent.
“Donald Trump will benefit a great deal from the lowering of the tax, we know that,” said Michael Graetz, a former special counsel at the Treasury Department.
“We know what the benefits are for the rich through the repeal of the estate tax and the lower rates of high-income business owners through their partnerships,” he said. “But what we really don’t know much about is the nature of benefits for the middle class.”
Graetz, who teaches at Columbia University, described the Republican plan as “a frame without a picture.”
Len Burman and his team at the Tax Policy Center are working to cost out the plan within the next few days. Another Washington tax policy research organization, the Tax Foundation, said it won’t even attempt its preliminary analysis until more details surface.
But the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the plan will amount to $ 5.8 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. Factoring in revenue offsetting measures such as the scrapping of some tax breaks, the committee projects the plan would increase the federal debt by more than $ 2 trillion over the next decade.
Broadly, the latest Republican tax plan seeks to:
- Cut the corporate tax rate to 20 per cent, down from 35 per cent. Conservatives are framing the lower corporate tax rate as something that will increase investment and help businesses create jobs.
- Lower the top tax rate for so-called “pass-through” businesses to 25 per cent. These businesses, such as partnerships, S corporations or limited liability companies (LLCs), are only taxed on individual income.
- Eliminate the state and local tax deduction for individuals, thus taking away a break for taxpayers in highly taxed states such as New York, New Jersey and California.
- Scrap the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which was designed to prevent high-income earners from using loopholes to pay zero tax.
- And repeal the estate tax, a provision that affects very wealthy people who leave money to their heirs. The tax is currently set at 40 per cent.
The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that repealing the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” would give rich estates a windfall in tax cuts. At the same time, a CBPP reports says, “it would do virtually nothing for small farms and businesses” and exacerbate income inequality.
The tax affects only a small portion of rich families that are worth more than $ 5.49 million.
“The estate tax is an interesting animal,” said the Tax Foundation’s Kyle Pomerleau. “It creates a lot of controversy, but it doesn’t create a lot of revenue.”
The estate tax brought in $ 19.3 billion in 2014, according to the Office of Management and Budget, accounting for 0.6 per cent of total federal revenue, which is $ 3 trillion.
When it was introduced in the 1960s, the alternative minimum tax was meant to clamp down on tax filers who took advantage of deductions to avoid paying taxes completely. In the decades since, it has gone through enough updates that it now also hits some upper-middle-income taxpayers.
Pomerleau said it’s conceivable that a taxpayer who earns $ 150,000 a year could be affected by the AMT, “but those cases aren’t the overwhelming rule.” The tax tends to kick in around $ 180,000 and above, “so we’re not talking about real middle-income taxpayers who are earning $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 a year — they’re not subject to the AMT.”
As Trump has not released his tax returns, it’s difficult to discern how the AMT would impact him. However, a line from his leaked 2005 return indicates the AMT accounted for $ 31.3 million in additional taxes, what the New York Times called “a vast bulk” of his federal income taxes that year.
One feature of the Republican tax proposal that could benefit the middle class is a doubling of the “standard deduction” to $ 12,000 for individuals. The standard deduction is the fixed-amount deduction in lieu of itemized deductions. The increase would simplify tax filing for middle-income earners.
Cuts complexity of code
While the president has reportedly tried to sell the plan as a populist tax cut rather than “reform,” Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, said he considers it reform because it attempts to simplify the tax code in a big way.
“It does reduce the complexity of the code,” he said. “It means fewer people have to file, and it does help some people on the lower-income end. And no doubt about it, it does help people on the higher-income end because it does get rid of the death tax and the AMT.”
As for whether the Republican tax plan would help cut the president’s taxes, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council deflected reporter questions on Thursday, saying American taxpayers are more concerned with their own financial positions.
“American taxpayers care about what they take home,” Gary Cohn said. “They care about what they have to spend.”
Janet Jackson broke down in tears during her concert in Houston, Texas, on Saturday night, after performing an emotional song about domestic violence.
The singer performed her song “What About” off her 1997 album, The Velvet Rope, containing lyrics about a volatile relationship.