Hillary Clinton wants the rich to pay their “fair share” of taxes.
Specifically, she has said she wants to make sure they pay a higher share of their income in federal taxes than middle-class workers like secretaries, nurses and truck drivers.
To that end, the leading Democratic presidential candidate has proposed several ways to raise the effective tax rate of the very wealthy — that is, the percent of one’s income paid in federal taxes.
Under today’s tax code, some very rich filers may end up with a lower effective tax rate than a truck driver if they make most of their money from investments, since those investments are often taxed at lower rates than wages, or if they pay for complex tax planning.
Clinton’s proposals chiefly target those individuals.
But it is worth noting that as a group, the highest income filers still pay a much higher average effective tax rate than middle class workers.
Those making more than $ 1 million will pay about 28% of their earnings in federal income and payroll taxes for 2015, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center. By contrast, those making between $ 50,000 and $ 75,000 will pay 11%, while households with incomes between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000 will pay 13.4% on average.
Presumably under Clinton’s proposals the 28% average effective rate for the $ 1 million-plus crowd would rise.
Here are the concrete changes she’s proposed so far:
Implement the Buffett Rule: Clinton has backed the so-called Buffett Rule, named for legendary investor Warren Buffett. It’s designed to ensure those making more than $ 1 million pay an effective tax rate of at least 30%, after allowing for charitable contributions.
Impose a 4% tax surcharge: In a bid to go “beyond” the Buffett Rule, Clinton has also proposed a 4% surcharge on income over $ 5 million. That effectively creates a new tax bracket with a top income tax rate of 43.6%, up from 39.6% today. The campaign estimates the surcharge would hit 0.02% of filers.
Raise the estate tax: Today, the first $ 5.45 million of an individual’s estate is exempt from the federal estate tax. And the top tax rate imposed on taxable estates is 40%.
Clinton wants to revert to 2009 parameters. In that case, the exemption level would fall to $ 3.5 million and the top tax rate would rise to 45%.
Raise taxes on investment fund managers: Managers of hedge funds, venture capital funds and other private equity funds are often paid what’s known as carried interest, which is a portion of a fund’s profits.
And those profits are taxed as capital gains at 20% (or 23.8% once you include a Medicare surtax). In either case, that is well below the 39.6% top rate high-income individuals pay now on their salaries.
Clinton proposes taxing carried interest as regular income.
Close key tax shelter “loopholes:” Clinton would close down various legal tax strategies that very high-income investors can use to shelter millions and in some cases billions of dollars from U.S. taxes offshore or in tax-preferred accounts such as IRAs.