The Wall Street Journal reported today that in Obama’s budget, the corporate tax rate on dividend taxes would triple. What kind of tax rates are we looking at? 44.8% (currently 15%).
President Obama’s 2013 budget is the gift that keeps on giving—to government. One buried surprise is his proposal to triple the tax rate on corporate dividends, which believe it or not is higher than in his previous budgets.
Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. Add in the planned phase-out of deductions and exemptions, and the rate hits 41%. Then add the 3.8% investment tax surcharge in ObamaCare, and the new dividend tax rate in 2013 would be 44.8%—nearly three times today’s 15% rate.
Keep in mind that dividends are paid to shareholders only after the corporation pays taxes on its profits. So assuming a maximum 35% corporate tax rate and a 44.8% dividend tax, the total tax on corporate earnings passed through as dividends would be 64.1%.
To whom does this high tax rate apply? Millionaires and billionaires, of course. Remember them — the ones classified by the IRS who earn $200K/year? AKA “the wealthy”.
The WSJ goes on to show how both retirees (who received most of their income from divideds) and stock holders (the burden of extra taxes will be shared by all shareholders, regardless of income).
Of course, the real problem with such a budget item is that increasing the tax rate in order to increase tax revenue flat out doesn’t work. IRS data from 1990-2009 clearly shows that when the dividend tax rate was reduced to 15% in 2003, tax revenue skyrocketed. Someone at the White House
forgot ignored the data.
Additionally, reports from the UK released today show that the newly implemented tax rate did not generate the kind of revenue it expected (it dropped). As I have written on this topic before, the reaction by Britons upper income earners is not surprising:
Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate.
One can only conclude that Obama’s dividend proposal is aimed to further drive a wedge between the “millionaires and billionaires” and the middle class. It makes it look like he’s doing something to those rich corporations. In reality, he knows that his electorate likely won’t realize how this policy would hurt many, many Americans. Let’s hope, for the sake of our economy, that such a devastating proposal will not come to fruition.