On Tax Day, Coalitions Ask Trump Administration: ‘Where’s America’s Tariff Refund?’

Based on current estimates that tariffs have cost American consumers $69 billion, every American household should receive a tariff rebate check for over $500“With Tax Day upon us, the administration has an opportunity to establish a system to give back the tens of billions of dollars in taxes paid by American families in the form of tariffs.”

(WASHINGTON D.C.) – Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the nationwide campaign against tariffs supported by trade organizations across industries, today joined The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), the non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the public about the government’s effects on the economy, in sending U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a letter reminding the administration that tariffs are taxes paid by Americans. The letter requests that the American people be reimbursed for the cost of the trade war.

American families and businesses have paid an estimated $69 billion in tariffs since 2018, which equates to more than $500 for every U.S. household. In the letter, the campaign notes that, counter to the President’s repeated statements that China is paying billions of dollars in tariffs to the U.S. Treasury, it is in fact U.S. consumers and businesses that have borne the burden. The letter cites the President’s own Council of Economic Advisors who recently noted in their Annual Economic Report to the President that U.S. consumers are paying for the tariffs.

“Tariffs are taxes that American families and businesses pay, period. With Tax Day upon us, the administration has an opportunity to establish a system to give back the tens of billions of dollars in taxes paid by American families in the form of tariffs,” the letter states. “Such a step would be welcome news to the American families who have paid hidden taxes over the past year due to tariffs. According to recent estimates, the trade war has so far cost Americans $69 billion. Therefore, each American household should receive a reimbursement of over $500. Especially during federal tax season, this refund would provide relief to hardworking American families, many of which may not even realize the hidden taxes they’ve been paying.”

The full text of the campaign’s letter to Secretary Mnuchin:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

On behalf of the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a nationwide campaign composed of industry organizations across the American economy opposed to tariffs, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, the non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the public about the government’s effects on the economy, we are writing to ask that the Trump administration deliver tariff relief to the American people. While we are encouraged by the ongoing trade negotiations and agree with the need to address China’s unfair trade practices, we have also watched with growing concern as the cost of tariffs that Americans pay has risen by billions of dollars every month. That is why we are urging the administration to not only end tariffs through bilateral negotiations, but to also establish a system to return the billions of dollars in added tariffs Americans consumers have paid to the Treasury Department’s general fund over the course of the trade war. Tariffs are taxes, and the American people shouldn’t be the ones to pay for China’s misbehavior.

Based on the administration’s public comments on tariffs, it appears there is a misunderstanding about who is actually footing the bill for the trade war. For instance, on February 16, President Trump tweeted that “billions of dollars are being paid to the United States by China in the form of trade tariffs!” That tweet was similar to remarks made to the nation’s governors on February 25, when the President stated that “China is paying us, right now, billions and billions of dollars of tariffs a month … it’s hurting them; it’s not good for them.”

The notion that China, or any other country, has been footing the bill for these tariffs has been refuted by nearly every expert on trade, tariffs and economic policy. In fact, even the administration’s own Council of Economic Advisors recently noted in their Annual Economic Report to the President that the downside of raising billions of dollars for the Treasury in 2018 was the “costs paid by consumers in the form of higher prices and reduced consumption.”

Non-administration economists have been more direct in their findings that American consumers have been paying the costs of the tariffs. The World Bank’s chief economist along with economists from three major U.S. universities estimate that “U.S. consumers bear the incidence of the U.S. tariffs.” In their study, they pegged the overall cost of tariffs American consumers have been burdened with at $69 billion.

In light of the overwhelming evidence that Americans are paying the cost of these tariffs, our request is straightforward. Tariffs are taxes that American families and businesses pay, period. With Tax Day upon us, the administration has an opportunity to establish a system to give back the tens of billions of dollars in taxes paid by American families in the form of tariffs.

Such a step would be welcome news to the American families who have paid hidden taxes over the past year due to tariffs. According to recent estimates, the trade war has so far cost Americans $69 billion. Therefore, each American household should receive a reimbursement of over $500. Especially during federal tax season, this refund would provide relief to hardworking American families, many of which may not even realize the hidden taxes they’ve been paying. Furthermore, returning these taxes to the American people would help grow the economy, unlike recent tariff policies that the administration’s own economists have found slow economic growth.

We are encouraged by the direction of the trade negotiations and hope a meaningful agreement is reached that levels the playing field for American businesses, ends existing tariffs and avoids enforcement mechanisms that would trigger future tariffs. However, in the meantime, we hope the administration will recognize that trade wars carry tremendous costs, and that those costs fall on the American families who shop in our stores, open our businesses and farm our lands. We believe that asking these men and women to shoulder the cost of the trade war has been a grave mistake. Now is the time to rectify that mistake by delivering tariff refunds to the American people this federal tax season.  

Sincerely,

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Taxpayer Protection Alliance 

CONTACT: Melanie Lehnhardt (Melanie@TariffsHurt.com