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TPC’s New Guide To The 2020 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Policy Proposals: We’re Keeping Track So You Don’t Have To.
Eighteen candidates still are in the running for president in 2020—and they’ve proposed over 300 tax ideas! To keep track, the Tax Policy Center has sifted through their campaign websites, online postings, and their statements during debates or on Sunday talk shows. Because we did, you don’t have to. Just go to TPC’s new guide to the 2020 presidential candidates’ proposals on tax policy, which we promise to regularly update.
This new tool will let you search each candidate’s plan by issue area or type of tax, compare any combination of candidates, and print your own customized view. Or just skim their plans on your mobile device during your morning commute (not recommended if you are driving). For the conscientious fact-checkers, we even include links to all of the source material.
Tax plans say a lot about candidates’ policy goals, how they view the role of government, how they plan to accomplish their goals—and, let’s be honest, whose votes they hope to attract. But here’s the rub: Candidates (probably with good reason) don’t list all their tax plans in one place on their websites.
Instead, they often embed their tax ideas within their spending plans—buried in pages devoted to health care, education, housing, and so on. Sometimes, the candidates provide the campaign equivalent of college term papers (complete with earnest footnotes and supporting documentation). But more often, a tax proposal pops up in the middle of a paragraph—indeed frequently just a teaser with little or no detail.
Interested in knowing how the candidates would tax the rich: then go to the “issue area” tab and select “income and wealth inequality.” You will learn that three Democratic candidates (Tom Steyer in addition to senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)) propose wealth taxes, ten would raise income taxes, six would expand the estate tax, and four would lift the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes. And then there is GOP hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who proposes the repeal of the estate tax.
Want to learn about the candidates’ approaches to taxing capital gains? Click “capital gains, dividends, and interest Income” in the tax type tab. Eight Democrats would raise the tax rate on capital gains income, five would repeal the favorable tax treatment of carried interest, and three would tax capital gains each year even for assets that have not been sold (sometimes called a mark-to-market tax). And then there is Weld, who proposes lowering the tax rate on capital gains.
But let’s face it. What makes this work fun is the small stuff. Andrew Yang has some of the biggest ideas out there, with his proposals for a Universal Basic Income, a carbon tax, and a value-added tax. But he also has proposed tax subsidies for marriage counseling, tax credits for grocery stores to reduce food waste, and a 1-percent tax on the largest university endowments for the express purpose of creating a new public university in Ohio.
Sanders is not only gunning for billionaires, but he also has house flippers—the stars of many cable TV shows—in his sights. Give Marianne Williamson credit for a serious tax plan, and hope that the next president follows up on her call for a refundable tax credit for gym fees (remember, those New Year’s resolutions are less than a month away).
Of course, presidents have many more tools at their disposal than just tax policy levers, including spending programs, regulations, executive orders, and the bully pulpit. But because we are the Tax Policy Center, we’re sticking to a guide focused on tax policy.
Since we are nowhere near the end of this presidential campaign cycle, we’ll update the guide as soon as new proposals (and candidates?) emerge.
And who knows? Our tool may even help the candidates keep track of their own ideas.
Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.