US Treasury's Mnuchin: Can't guarantee tax cut for entire middle class

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said one of the top goals of the Trump administration's tax plan is to help the middle class, but he could not guarantee that every middle-class family would see a tax cut.

"It is our objective that the entire middle class will get a tax cut. You cannot make guarantees because every single person's taxes are different, people take advantage of different things, so we can't make that guarantee," Mnuchin said on ABC's "This Week" program.

President Donald Trump last week outlined principles for his proposed tax plan, including reducing the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent, establishing a new 25 percent tax rate for pass-through businesses and lowering the top income tax rate for individuals to 35 percent.

A report on Friday from the non-profit Washington-based Tax Policy Center found that taxpayers in the top 1 percent income bracket - above $730,000 - would receive about 50 percent of the total tax benefit from the overhaul, with their after-tax income forecast to increase an average of 8.5 percent.

The group said about 12 percent of taxpayers would face a tax increase of roughly $1,800 on average.

Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials defended the tax plan, saying it is not aimed at helping the rich while acknowledging the details were in flux.

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"The objective of the president is that rich people don't get tax cuts and we are perfectly comfortable, as we go through this process, we will explain to the American public how this works," Mnuchin said.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN's "State of the Union" program: "This really is about the middle class and the corporate tax rate, for the president."

Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, said no one knows yet how Americans will be affected by the proposed tax reform plan because it has not been finalized.

"When people come out with these definitive statements of what the tax plan is going to do, or what the tax plan is not going to do, I find it hard to believe, because we don't even know what the tax plan is going to look like in its entirety," Cohn said in an interview on Fox News’ "Sunday Morning Futures" program.

Mnuchin said the administration hoped to have the tax overhaul legislation passed in December.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani and Julia Harte; Editing by Caren Bohan and Paul Simao)

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