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House Democrats’ Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed

  • September 14, 2021

The proposal includes substantial measures to raise taxes on the rich. Taxable income over $450,000 — or $400,000 for unmarried individuals — would be taxed at 39.6 percent, the top rate before President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 tax cut brought it to 37 percent. The top capital gains rate would rise to 25 percent from 20 percent, considerably less than a White House proposal that would have taxed investment gains as income for the richest, at 39.6 percent.

Under the committee’s plan, a 3 percent surtax would be applied to incomes over $5 million. The value of estates shielded from estate taxation, which doubled to $24 million for married couples under the Republican tax cuts of 2017, would go back to $12 million at the end of this year, four years earlier than the scheduled expiration.

The proposal would also raise taxes in a variety of ways on businesses called pass-through entities — like many law firms and financial companies — that distribute profits to their owners, who then pay individual income taxes on them. Those changes, including the extension of an existing 3.8 percent surtax to include pass-through income, would raise taxes primarily on high earners, generating several hundred billion dollars in revenues, by Democratic estimates.

The joint committee estimated on Monday that the changes would raise about $1 trillion from high-income individuals.

Republicans balked at the proposal. Business lobbying groups rejected the package, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slamming it as “an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity.”

“President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are ramming through trillions of wasteful spending and crippling tax hikes that will drive prices up even higher, kill millions of American jobs and drive them overseas, and usher in a new era of government dependency with the greatest expansion of the welfare state in our lifetimes,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the committee’s ranking Republican, said of the plan.

But what is not included is notable. The richest of the rich earn little from actual paychecks (Mr. Bezos’s salary as the founder of Amazon was $81,840 in 2020), so a surtax on income would have little impact. Their vast fortunes in stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets grow largely untaxed each year.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/us/politics/tax-plan-democrats.html

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