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President Donald Trump signs a tax bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017. (Mike Theiler/Pool via CNP) President Donald Trump signs a tax bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017. (Mike Theiler/Pool via CNP)

President Donald Trump signs a tax bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017. (Mike Theiler/Pool via CNP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 5, 2018

Headline misleads about President Trump, police and tax deductions

The new tax bill signed by President Donald Trump delivers some pain to police officers and firefighters, a viral story said.

"Trump: Police officers and firefighters make too much money ... hits them with tax penalty," said a Dec. 26 headline on Bluedot Daily, a website that is critical of Republicans.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. We found no evidence that Trump declared first responders make too much money. However, the tax bill signed by Trump in December did make changes in tax deductions that will affect many types of workers, not just police officers.

Most of the Bluedot Daily article lifts from an article in Salon that said in 2018, police officers or fire responders who buy uniforms, guns or ammunition will no longer be able to deduct those costs.

While Bluedot Daily made it appear that Trump targeted police officers and firefighters, Salon cited several types of workers who have taken the deduction in the past and will no longer be able to do so under the new tax law.

Salon said that nearly one in five taxpayers will no longer be able to use miscellaneous deductions, writing, "Why are Trump and Congressional Republicans dinging first responders, teachers, nurses, traveling salespeople and even those who pay someone to prepare their income tax returns? So the rich can get bigger tax breaks, of course."

Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told PolitiFact that the tax bill eliminated all employee deductions, including uniforms and union dues, for income tax purposes.

"Most employees did not itemize their employee expenses, so they did not deduct uniforms, etc.," he said. "But some may have."

The Bluedot Daily article said that under the new tax bill "a wealthy CEO can deduct a private jet, but a police officer cannot deduct his/her uniform."

That’s comparing apples and oranges, Rosenthal said. The tax bill eliminated employee deductions for income tax purposes, while the reference to corporate jets pertains to exempt amounts paid for private aircraft from an excise tax.  

Rosenthal pointed to an analysis by the Washington Post’s The Fact Checker that explained that the provision provided clarity on a tax that was never successfully imposed on private jet management companies.

Our ruling

Bluedot Daily said, "Trump: police officers and firefighters make too much money ... hits them with tax penalty."

The tax bill eliminated employee deductions for expenses such as uniforms, but that will affect many types of employees -- not just police officers and firefighters. And we found no evidence that Trump stated that police and firefighters make too much money.

We rate this statement False.

Our Sources

Bluedot Daily, "Trump: Police Officers and Firefighters Make Too Much Money…Hits Them with Tax Penalty," Dec. 26, 2017

Congress.gov, H. Rept. 115-466 - Tax cuts and jobs act December 2017

Salon, "Deducting a CEO’s jet, but not a cop’s uniform," Dec. 23, 2017

Snopes, "Did Donald Trump Say 'Police Officers and Firefighters Make Too Much Money'?" Dec. 27, 2017

Washington Post The Fact Checker, "Does the Senate tax bill really offer a tax break for private jets, as key Democrats claim?" Dec. 6, 2017

Fortune, "How Individual Taxpayers Can Exploit the New Tax Bill Right Now," Dec. 16, 2017

Society for Human Resource Management, "President Signs Tax Bill Altering Employee Benefits," Dec. 20, 2017

PolitiFact, "What's in the final version of the tax bill?" Dec. 18, 2017

Interview, Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Jan. 2, 2018

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Headline misleads about President Trump, police and tax deductions

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