Where the presidential candidates stand on taxes

Where the presidential candidates stand on taxes
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Presidential candidates Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE, who have touted their tax proposals this month, approach the issue from opposite ends, with Trump looking to lower the top rates for individuals and businesses and Clinton wanting make high earners pay more in taxes.

While both say they want to do away with a tax “loophole” for investment fund managers and stop companies from moving their headquarters overseas, their plans have more differences than similarities. 


They disagree significantly on issues including tax rates and the estate tax. 

Trump’s tax plan has been revised recently to more closely resemble the House Republicans’ tax-reform blueprint. Clinton has adopted some Obama administration proposals. 

Here’s a look at where the presidential candidates stand on various tax issues: 

Individual taxes

Trump said earlier this month that he would use the individual tax rates in the House GOP “Better Way” blueprint of 12, 25 and 33 percent. These rates are different from the rates of 10, 20 and 25 percent that he had proposed last year. Under current law, the top individual tax rate is 39.6 percent. 

“I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans,” the GOP presidential nominee said in Detroit earlier this month. 

“The rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs, or undermines our ability to compete,” he added. 

Clinton has suggested changes that would increase taxes for high earners. 

She has backed the “Buffett rule,” named after billionaire Warren Buffett, that would require those making more than $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their adjusted gross income in taxes. She has also called for capping the value of certain exemptions and deductions at 28 percent. Both of these ideas have been in Obama budget requests. 

Clinton has also proposed a 4 percent “surcharge” on adjusted gross income over $5 million. 

“Donald Trump doesn’t need a tax cut. I don’t need a tax cut,” Clinton said in Cleveland Wednesday. “It’s time for the wealthiest Americans, whoever you are, as well as corporations and Wall Street, to pay your fair share in taxes.” 

Business taxes

Trump said he would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. He said the lower rate will lead to the end of “inversions” — transactions in which U.S. companies merge with foreign businesses and then reincorporate overseas to lower their taxes. 

Trump also has proposed at 15 percent rate for income from “pass-through businesses” whose income is taxed at the individual level on their owners’ returns. Most small businesses are organized as pass-through entities, as are many law firms and hedge funds.

Additionally, Trump has called for allowing businesses to immediately write off the costs of their investments. This idea is also in the House GOP blueprint and moves the U.S. in the direction of a consumption tax. 

He would allow businesses to repatriate their foreign earnings at a tax rate of 10 percent. 

Clinton has said she would pay for her infrastructure plan through business tax reform but hasn’t provided more specifics. She has not said whether she would change the corporate tax rate. 

Clinton has several targeted proposals aimed at stopping corporate inversions, including an “exit tax” on U.S. companies’ untaxed foreign earnings when they expatriate. She also has proposed a “claw back” of tax benefits for companies that move facilities overseas. 

Additionally, Clinton has proposed a tax on high-frequency trading — a narrow type of financial transaction tax. 

Trump has attacked Clinton on business taxes by saying that her plan would require small businesses to pay as much as three times more in taxes than his plan. 

But Clinton has called Trump’s 15 percent rate for pass-through business income the “Trump loophole” that would allow the GOP nominee and other wealthy people to significantly lower their taxes.

Larry Kudlow, an informal economic adviser to Trump, told The Hill the details haven’t been worked out yet but there will be “very tight restrictions on what constitutes business income versus personal income.” 

Kudlow also said that Clinton’s comments are a “cheap shot” and that Trump’s proposal on pass-through businesses has nothing to do with his personal taxes. Many groups in Washington have called for a rate for pass-through businesses that is the same as or similar to the rate for corporations, he said. 

Carried Interest

Both Trump and Clinton have said they would end the “carried interest” tax break and tax the profits interest investment-fund managers receive for providing the service of managing funds as ordinary income rather than capital gains. 

However, Clinton has said that Trump’s plan would make this “loophole” for hedge fund managers worse, and Politifact rated that statement as true.

The Clinton campaign has said that fund managers receive pass-through business income that could be taxed at a rate of 15 percent under Trump’s plan. That rate is lower than the current top rate for long-term capital gains. 

Kudlow said that Trump hasn’t put out details on carried interest yet and what Clinton is doing is “pure snarky politics.” 

Estate tax

Trump has proposed eliminating the estate tax, which he and other Republicans have referred to as the “death tax.” 

“American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death — it’s just plain wrong,” he said in Detroit. 

On the other hand, Clinton not only wants to keep the estate tax, but she wants to restore the tax to its parameters from 2009. Doing so would decrease the amount that’s exempt per couple from $10.9 million to $7 million and increase the rate from 40 percent to 45 percent. 

Clinton has attacked Trump for proposing the repeal of the estate tax, saying that if Trump is as rich as he claims, his family would get a $4 billion tax break from repealing the tax. Her campaign has put out a fact sheet describing other ways that money could be spent.

Kudlow said that Clinton doesn’t know how Trump’s family would benefit from an estate-tax repeal. 

“The estate tax amounts to a double or triple tax on the same income earned by a business, particularly a small business,” he said, adding that people on both the left and the right have suggested eliminating it. 


One of the most noteworthy proposals Trump offered in his Detroit speech was a tax deduction for childcare expenses. 

The Trump campaign said the deduction would be available to taxpayers who take the standard deduction as well as those who itemize their deductions. The deduction would be capped at the average cost of childcare for someone of the child’s age. 

Tax deductions do not benefit people in the zero income tax bracket. The Trump campaign said that lower-income families would be able to exclude childcare expenses from half of their payroll taxes. 

Clinton said in Michigan this month that she would expand the current child tax credit “to provide real relief to tens of millions of working families struggling with the costs of raising children.” 

She has also said that she is aiming to limit childcare costs to 10 percent of family’s income.

Clinton has attacked Trump’s proposed deduction, saying it is aimed at wealthy people. However, Trump national policy director Stephen Miller said that Clinton “lied wildly” with these attacks.