Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes

An IRS tax form.

2020 Democratic candidates have offered various tax proposals they hope will appeal to voters.

The candidates have important differences over items like the corporate tax rate and whether there should be a wealth tax, but they are in agreement that they want taxes on wealthy people and corporations to be higher.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will have significantly different ideas on taxes from President Trump. The president in 2017 signed legislation that cut tax rates for individuals and businesses, which Democrats criticize for its benefits to wealthy individuals and corporations. Trump is also expected to release a new tax proposal ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Here are some of the key elements of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ tax proposals.


Joe Biden

The former vice president is one of the more moderate candidates in the race, and his tax plan would not raise taxes on the rich as much as some other candidates would. Still, Biden’s plan includes a number of tax increases for higher earners and businesses.

Biden has called for raising the top individual tax rate from 37 percent to its pre-GOP tax law level of 39.6 percent and taxing the capital gains of those with more than $1 million in income at the same rates as ordinary income. He’s also proposing to cap the value of itemized deductions at 28 percent — an idea that had also been floated by former President Obama. And Biden wants to end a tax break known as “stepped up basis” that benefits heirs.

On the corporate side, Biden has called for raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, which is lower than the pre-GOP tax law level of 35 percent but is the same rate that Obama proposed. He’s also proposing a minimum tax of 15 percent for corporations reporting more than $100 million in income on their financial statements and raising the rate for a minimum tax on foreign earnings created by Trump’s tax law from at least 10.5 percent to at least 21 percent.


Michael Bloomberg

The billionaire former New York City mayor released a tax plan earlier this month. The plan would raise the top individual tax rate back to 39.6 percent and create a 5 percent surtax on incomes above $5 million. It would also tax capital gains at the same rates as ordinary income for those making more than $1 million and make changes to the estate tax so that more estates are subject to it. 

Bloomberg’s proposed tax changes for businesses include raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, applying a minimum tax on a country-by-country basis and repealing the GOP tax law’s 20 percent deduction for income from noncorporate businesses known as pass-throughs. He’d also provide more resources to the IRS.


Pete Buttigieg

The former South Bend, Ind., mayor’s tax plan would also raise the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent, increase capital gains taxes for high earners, repeal the pass-through deduction, create a financial transaction tax and boost IRS enforcement.

Buttigieg is also proposing to increase the corporate tax rate back to its pre-GOP tax law level of 35 percent. While Buttigieg is one of the more moderate candidates in the race, he’s more in line with the progressives on the corporate tax rate than he is with the other moderates.

Buttigieg’s campaign website says that he supports expanding the earned income tax credit, which benefits low- and middle-income taxpayers.


Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, has not gone into much detail about taxes on the campaign trail. 

In Congress, she voted against the GOP tax law and has co-sponsored bills to create a financial transaction tax and to expand the child tax credit.


Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar would raise capital gains taxes for high earners and ensure that taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

The Minnesota senator backs raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent and rolling back other portions of the GOP tax law benefiting corporations, and Klobuchar has expressed interest in closing “loopholes” that she says incentivize corporations to move jobs overseas. She also supports boosting tax enforcement.

Klobuchar’s tax proposals don’t just focus on raising taxes on rich people and corporations. She has also called for expanding tax credits benefiting low- and middle-income people, such as the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, and has proposed creating new tax incentives aimed at encouraging certain manufacturing and hiring activities. Nearly every Democratic senator has co-sponsored legislation to expand the earned income and child tax credits, including fellow presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.


Bernie Sanders

Sanders, who received the most votes in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, is the leading progressive candidate and is calling for aggressive tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.

Vermont’s Independent senator called for a wealth tax with eight brackets, the top one being 8 percent on the wealth of married couples over $10 billion. He’d also significantly expand the estate tax, reducing the amount of money that’s exempt from the tax and creating a progressive rate structure for it that tops out at 77 percent for the value of estates over $1 billion. 

Sanders also has several tax proposals aimed at businesses and Wall Street. He wants to raise the corporate tax rate back to 35 percent and tax both companies’ domestic and foreign earnings at that rate. He wants to repeal the GOP tax law’s pass-through deduction and require large pass-throughs to pay corporate taxes. He’s proposing tax penalties for large corporations’ income if they have large gaps between their CEO’s pay and their median worker’s pay. And he’s called for a financial transaction tax.


Tom Steyer

Like some of the other progressive candidates, Steyer, a billionaire, has called for a wealth tax.

His proposal includes three brackets, with the highest being 2 percent on net worth of at least $1 billion.

Other proposals from Steyer to raise taxes on the rich include calls for raising the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent and taxing capital gains and ordinary income at the same rates. He wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 35 percent.

Steyer also has some proposals aimed at providing tax relief for those who aren’t wealthy. He wants to expand the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, and he also wants to provide a tax-rate cut for individuals making under $200,000 and families making under $250,000.


Elizabeth Warren

Warren, a Massachusetts senator, laid down a marker for the debate on taxes in the Democratic primary when she proposed a wealth tax in January of last year. Other candidates then followed suit in offering their own proposals to raise taxes on the rich, and wealth taxes became a topic of discussion in debates.

The current version of Warren’s annual wealth tax would tax net worth between $50 million and $1 billion at 2 percent and net worth above $1 billion at 6 percent.

The wealth tax is just one of many tax proposals that Warren has offered to finance her ambitious spending proposals.

Other notable tax proposals include a 7 percent tax on corporate profits over $100 million, boosting IRS enforcement, a financial transactions tax and taxing wealthy people’s investment gains annually. Warren has also called for restoring the corporate tax rate to 35 percent and a country-by-country minimum tax at that rate.

Tags 2020 Democrats Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Donald Trump economy Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg taxes Tom Steyer Tulsi Gabbard

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