With Bernie Sanders doing well against Hillary Clinton for the Democrat nomination, it’s a great time to look at some of the specifics of his tax plan. The Tax Foundation studied the affects of the major changes (listed below). Their analysis found that Sander’s plan will reduce typical income by more than 15% while simultaneously hiking taxes by the trillions and shrinking the GDP by nearly 10% over the next decade.
- First, Sander’s plan highlights:
Individual Income Tax Changes
–Adds four new income tax brackets for high-income households, with rates of 37 percent, 43 percent, 48 percent, and 52 percent.
–Taxes capital gains and dividends at ordinary income rates for households with income over $250,000.
–Creates a new 2.2 percent “income-based [health care] premium paid by households.” This is equivalent to increasing all tax bracket rates by 2.2 percentage points, and would raise the top marginal income tax rate to 54.2 percent.
–Eliminates the alternative minimum tax.
–Eliminates the personal exemption phase-out (PEP) and the Pease limitation on itemized deductions.
–Limits the value of additional itemized deductions to 28 percent for households with income over $250,000.
Payroll Tax Changes
–Creates a new 6.2 percent employer-side payroll tax on all wages and salaries. This is referred to by the campaign as an “income-based health care premium paid by employers.”
–Creates a 0.2 percent employer-side payroll tax and 0.2 percent employee-side payroll tax, to fund a new family and medical leave trust fund.
–Applies the Social Security payroll tax to earnings over $250,000, a threshold which is not indexed for wage inflation.
Business Income Tax Changes
–Eliminates several business tax provisions involving oil, gas, and coal companies.
–Ends the deferral of income from controlled foreign subsidiaries.*
–Changes several international tax rules to curb corporate inversions and limit use of the foreign tax credit.*
Estate Tax Changes
–Decreases the estate tax exclusion from $5.4 million to $3.5 million.
–Raises the estate tax rate from 40 percent to a set of rates ranging between 45 percent and 65 percent.
–Changes several estate tax rules involving asset valuation, family trusts, gift taxes, and farmland and conservation easements.*
–Creates a financial transactions tax on the value of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other financial assets traded by U.S. persons. The rate of the tax ranges from 0.005 percent to 0.5 percent, depending on the type of asset.*
–Limits like-kind exchanges of property to $1 million per taxpayer per year and prohibits the use of like-kind exchanges for art and collectibles.*
Now that Bernie Sanders has routed Hillary Clinton by 22 points in New Hampshire, the American people might be curious to learn more about some of his specific policy proposals, starting with his tax plan. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation has scored Sanders’s plan and has found it would cause the after-tax incomes of those in the middle of the income spectrum—those with incomes between the 40th and 60th percentiles—to drop by between 16.3 and 17 percent. In other words, Sanders’s tax plan would reduce the typical American’s income by a sixth.
This would result partly from Sanders’s raising of taxes on the middle class (and on everyone else), and partly from the ill-effects that his myriad tax hikes would have on the economy. In terms of tax increases for the middle class, Sanders would add a new 6.2 percent employer-side payroll tax that his campaign calls an “income-based health care premium paid by employers,” which would be passed on to employees in the form of lower wages. He would also add a new 2.2 percent “income-based [health-care] premium paid by households,” which the Tax Foundation writes “is equivalent to increasing all tax bracket rates by 2.2 percentage points.” It turns out that government-run “single payer” health care requires a whole lot of payers.
In all, the Tax Foundation finds that Sanders’s tax plan would be a $13.6 trillion tax hike—27 times as large as Hillary Clinton’s proposed $498 billion tax hike.
Sanders’s plan would also shrink the U.S. gross domestic product by 9.5 percent over ten years in relation to what it otherwise would have been, according to the scoring. That means it would decrease the size of the economy by about $2.6 trillion—or about $8,000 for every American, or $32,000 per family of four. If a rising tide lifts all boats, Sanders’s plan seems designed to sink the whole American fleet.
While middle-class Americans’ incomes would fall by a sixth under Sanders’s plan, the incomes of the top one percent would fall even more, dropping by a quarter. That might provide some solace for Sanders supports—if everyone is less prosperous, everyone should at least be more equal.
If you’d like to read the full Tax Foundation study, go here.