What’s going on with US tax reform? Let Quartz explain…

These guys have big plans.
These guys have big plans.
Image: Reuters/Aaron Bernstein
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Sweeping changes are coming to the US tax system. The Republican-led House and Senate have proposed tax reform bills that are similar enough that something like them will probably pass into law. If the majority party’s lawmakers can quickly agree on a compromise—a big “if”—it may happen by the end of the year.

The Republicans’ tax proposals, as currently written, are pretty unpopular. As we approach the legislative endgame, now is a good time to take a step back and ask: How did we get here? 

Quartz has been following tax reform for much of the year, and we are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of stories to demystify the debate and get up to speed if you’re just tuning in.

Why do Republicans think the US needs tax reform in the first place?

At its core, the proposals are mostly about cutting corporate taxes.
This is the Republican plot to kill the US corporate income tax as we know it

No, really, it’s mostly about cutting corporate taxes

Take a look at these charts.
The bottom line of US tax reform, in two charts

Is cutting corporate taxes so deeply a good idea?

Probably, but someone has to pay for it.
Trump’s tax agenda is exciting and ambitious, but who will pay for it?

Higher income taxes on the rich would do the trick. That’s not on the table.
Raising taxes on the rich is an easy way to pay for corporate tax cuts

Why not? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

The insane logic of cutting taxes on the highest earners in the United States

Instead, Republicans plan to pay for the corporate cut via higher government debt and increasing taxes on some middle-income families.
The GOP tax plan makes families pay more so global corporations pay less

Wait, so some middle-class families will pay more in taxes?

The Senate Republican tax bill does not look good for the working class at all

So why, again, are Republicans so eager to pass a tax reform bill?

They are betting that cutting corporate taxes will “trickle-down” and boost economic growth.
Almost everything Republicans get wrong about the economy started with a cocktail napkin in 1974

Is it really a done deal?

Not necessarily. Some Republicans might decide they are uncomfortable increasing the debt, or that the proposals don’t help small businesses enough.
Why is a tax-cut loving accountant the first Republican senator to oppose his party’s tax plan?

Got any tax-related factoids I can wow my friends with at our next cocktail party?

Of course! Take five…

The reform plan is worse for people in Democratic states than Republican ones.
The smart tax-reform idea aimed at Democrats that will also rile Republicans

The plan includes a thinly veiled attack on the endowments of Ivy League schools.
The Republican tax plan includes an attack on elite universities

Philanthropies don’t like it.
The GOP tax plan gives Americans less incentive to be charitable

Small-government conservatives can cite high-tax Sweden as a model for repealing the estate tax.
The Republican tax plan makes the US like Sweden in one unexpected way

True tax reform would mean introducing a value added tax (VAT), like nearly every other country.
Eight lessons from eight countries as America attempts an ambitious tax reform

What does this mean for Trump?

It turns out that it’s really good for Trump and his family’s businesses.
The Republican tax bill would save Donald Trump and his family millions of dollars