Port Jefferson, N.Y.
Escalating tariffs between the U.S. and China have fueled an acrimonious debate over who’s paying. President Trump says China; his critics say Americans.
The answer isn’t straightforward because, as with any tax, the person paying the tariff doesn’t necessarily bear its burden. If the tariff is simply passed along to the importer, American businesses or consumers bear the burden. If Chinese exporters cut prices to avoid losing sales, they bear the burden. If imports shift to another country, no one pays the tariff — but Chinese are burdened by lost jobs and Americans by a higher price. And if production shifts to the U.S., some of what Americans pay in higher prices goes to other Americans as wages and profits.