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Note: Data includes the first 30 weeks of each year; Data: Internal Revenue Service; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Trump's tax cuts were, weirdly, feared by homeowners and charities. Normally, tax cuts make people richer, and richer people spend more money on housing and charity.

But, but, but: Both those items have historically benefited from massive tax expenditures, leading to worries that they would be worse off after the tax cuts.

Driving the news: According to the latest data from the IRS, the tax cut worked much as everybody expected it would. The number of people itemizing their taxes plunged by more than 65%, with similar falls for the number of people deducting mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

Yes, but: The other shoe hasn't dropped.

  • Only 8% of taxpayers now deduct mortgage interest, yet home prices continue to rise, with no indication that the new law changed anything at all.
  • Similarly, the charitable contribution deduction has had no visible effect on charitable contributions. Total giving rose by 0.7% to a new record high in 2018, despite a late-year stock market plunge.

The bottom line: Tax deductions are much easier to create than they are to abolish; they're also hugely expensive. The evidence strongly implies that almost all of them are a waste of money.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.

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