The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
The House plans a vote to repeal the estate tax today. Repealing the levy would cut taxes by $270 billion over 10 years for 0.2 percent of the nation’s richest estates. The White House and Democrats are vehemently opposed. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 5,400 estates will face the GOP-named “death tax” in each of the next several years. More than 2 million people die in the US annually.
Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio’s proposed tax cuts: Not enough, say some conservatives. In the plan Rubio and Senator Mike Lee propose, the top individual tax rate would drop from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. Compared to flat tax plans with a 17 percent rate, Rubio looks weak on tax reform to some conservatives. But Lee notes that a flat tax would raise taxes on middle-income households. “I can’t find an effective way that moves us to a single-rate system that doesn’t involve raising taxes on middle-class Americans,” Lee said.
How can tax reform efforts protect small businesses? There’s a bipartisan call to reform corporate taxation, but what about individuals whose business income is taxable under the individual code? Most pass-through entities are small firms, and the overwhelming majority of taxpayers with business income are not in the top two tax brackets. In his testimony yesterday to the House Committee on Small Business, TPC’s Eric Toder delved into the potential effects of tax reform on small business, and offered some ideas on how to protect them.
There’s the One Percent, and there’s the Second Percent. TPC’s Bob Williams examines the President’s tax return and finds that “the tax code already boosts their taxes a lot.” He shows how by tracking Obama’s Affordable Care Act taxes, the Personal Exemption Phaseout and limitation on itemized deductions, and ultimately, the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT drove up the Obama’s effective tax rate by 2.2 percentage points to 19.6 percent. (On average, Americans paid 21.3 percent of their income in all federal taxes in 2013.)
Is Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s tax plan for Pennsylvania similar to a new House GOP plan? Well, the devil is in the details. The state’s House GOP leader would, like Governor Wolf, increase personal income and sales tax rates, distribute some of the revenue to school districts, and reduce property taxes. But the House proposal would use the extra personal income tax dollars to reduce local property tax rates and use the additional sales tax revenue to supplement homestead exclusions. Governor Wolf, by contrast, would distribute additional personal income tax revenues among the state’s 500 school districts, focusing the most tax relief to districts with more poverty and higher tax burdens.
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