Donald Trump's long-awaited, revamped tax plan raises as many questions as it answers about the Republican candidate's aims for overhauling the tax code.
The campaign announced the updated tax reform plan Thursday, but left major parts open to interpretation.
One of those was a serious flaw that the campaign had been trying to fix since August, but still hadn't settled by the weekend. That part, which had been dubbed the "Trump loophole" by Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, created a special 15 percent tax rate for businesses that file through the individual side of the code.
That special 15 percent rate was meant partly to maintain competitiveness for the millions of small businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships and LLCs — that see their owners' income taxed at the individual income tax rate, which would be a much higher 33 percent in Trump's plan.
But it also would cut taxes for some big businesses that are structured as "pass-throughs," including, it appears, some of Trump's own entities.
Furthermore, it would have created an incentive for employees to reclassify themselves as contractors — that is, small businesses — to cut their tax rates to 15 percent.
The special tax rate for small businesses would account for a difference of more than $1 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
But there was confusion Friday about whether the special rate was in Trump's revamped plan.
Initially, the campaign's updated tax policy section on its website did not indicate that the special 15 percent small business rate was part of the plan at all.
Later Friday, however, the page was updated to read that the 15 percent "rate is available to all businesses, both big and small, that that want to retain the profits within the business."
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a group that represents small businesses, said the Trump plan did include a 15 percent rate for small businesses. The group did not respond to an inquiry about whether that information came from the Trump campaign.
The Trump campaign itself did not respond to multiple requests for comments.
Reporters and tax experts were left guessing at the plan's contents based on the statements of campaign officials who weren't involved in drafting the plan or of outside advisers.
The best source of information appeared to be from the Tax Foundation, the outside nonprofit that maintains a model of the effects of changes in tax laws and had been in touch with the campaign about producing a score of its new plan. On Twitter, Tax Foundation economist Alan Cole said Friday the Trump team "seems to be coalescing" around the idea of letting any business elect whether to file as a corporation, a partnership or an individual. Choosing to file as an individual, however, might come with strings attached that don't apply to pass-through entities under the current code.
Although major, the uncertainty about Trump's plan for taxing pass-through businesses was just one of several major questions about the plan.
Also in doubt was the treatment of international taxation. While Republicans and Democrats alike have prioritized changing the way corporations' overseas profits are taxed to eliminate the incentives for U.S. businesses to move their headquarters to tax havens, Trump's plan is mostly silent on that point.
The Trump campaign said that manufacturing companies would be allowed to immediately write off all investments, but didn't say whether doing so would be allowed more widely or how he would draw a line between manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses. Other Republicans have pushed to allow all companies to write off all expenses in the first year.
"To limit it just to manufacturers, and to then kind of punish them by taking away their interest deductibility, is a little paltry," said Ryan Ellis, a conservative tax advocate.