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What 2020 Democratic presidential candidates believe: Taxes

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have proposed a range of tax policies, including increasing rates for the country’s wealthiest residents and eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

Here’s where the seven candidates participating in the PBS Newshour/POLITICO Democratic debate stand on the issue.

Joe Biden

Biden’s calls for a federal spending plan of $3.4 trillion over 10 years to provide his social policy proposals, including his climate, education and health plans. To pay for this, the former vice president plans to increase taxes in 10 different areas.

One major increase would be to tax capital gains as normal income. The second largest source from Biden’s plan is to increase the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. Other sources include a 21 percent rate on foreign profits and a cap on deductions for the wealthy.

To address income inequality, he supports a “pro-growth, progressive tax code that treats workers as job creators,” and closes loopholes that he says benefit shareholders over laborers. He supports reducing non-compete clauses to expand opportunities for workers to seek fair pay, and increasing tax credits for low-income families.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg wants to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which he says would increase incomes by an average of $1,000 per year for 35 million American families.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor has a $1 trillion plan to expand affordable housing and child care that he plans to fund by reforming the way capital gains are taxed among the top 1 percent.

On corporate taxes, he supports raising them from 21 percent to 35 percent, which the campaign says will help finance his health plan.

As part of his climate plan, Buttigieg plans to push for “an economy-wide price on carbon, which will automatically increase each year.” It also calls for eliminating tax subsidies for fossil fuel industries and developing incentives for energy efficiency.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar’s plan includes tax credits to provide training for workers who have lost jobs to automation. It would also support workers and communities that have lost manufacturing jobs or have depended on the fossil fuel industry.

The Minnesota senator also proposes changing the tax code to simplify withholding for self-employed workers. To fund Social Security, Klobuchar wants to apply the payroll tax to wages above $250,000, as opposed to the current system that’s only applied to the first $133,000 in wages a taxpayer earns.

Her plan would also establish a fund to lower national debt, and “will initially seed the fund with $300 billion by raising the corporate tax rate and dedicating savings from the government-wide budget review,” according to her campaign.

Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator wants to establish an annual wealth tax on the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households, which he claims will cut the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years. It would start with a 1 percent tax on net worth above $32 million for a married couple, according to his website. The maximum rate under his proposal would be 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion.

He would also implement a tax to address income inequality. Companies with large pay gaps between executives and workers will see an increased corporate tax. The lowest tax rate increase of 0.5 percent would kick in for corporations that pay executives 50 to 100 times more than their median workers. The highest tax rate of 5 percent will happen for companies where executives make more than 500 times their median workers’ pay.

“The American people are sick and tired of corporate CEOs who now make 300 times more than their average employees, while they give themselves huge bonuses and cut back on the healthcare and pension benefits of their employees,” Sanders said.

Tom Steyer

Steyer calls for a repeal of the Trump administration’s tax cuts and the implementation of an annual wealth tax of 1 percent on those with a net worth above $32 million. He estimates this will generate more than $1 trillion for social programs, according to his website.

In his campaign announcement, Steyer said he wanted to “take the corporate control out of politics,” adding that if corporations have an “unlimited ability to participate in politics, it will skew everything because they only care about profits.”

Steyer supports raising the minimum wage, and lists “the right to a living wage” as one of the “5 Rights” all Americans should have. He previously put money toward a carbon tax proposal in the state of Oregon, but has said that talking about “jobs and health” is a more effective way of getting voters to take interest in climate issues.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren has issued a multiple point tax plan that includes a roll back of tax cuts and an increased tax rate for gun manufacturers. Among her signature proposals is an “ultra-millionaire tax.” The plan calls for a 2 percent tax for all households with a net worth above $50 million. The tax rate would increase three percent for households with a net worth over $1 billion.

The Massachusetts senator would also implement an “excessive lobbying tax” to mitigate corporate influence on government. Firms that spend between $500,000 and $1 million per year on lobbying would be taxed 35 percent. The largest rate would be a 75 percent tax “for every dollar above $5 million.”

She also wants to expand Social Security by imposing a 14.8 percent Social Security contribution requirement on individual wages above $250,000. It would also establish a 14.8 percent Social Security contribution requirement on net investment income for individuals making more than $250,000 in annual income and families making more than $400,000 in annual income.

Andrew Yang

Yang’s campaign is centered on “The Freedom Dividend,” his plan to pay every American older than 17 — regardless of employment — $1,000 per month. He argues the dividend is needed to help those workers who have lost jobs to automation and other technological advances. Yang has said he would pay for this form of universal basic income “by consolidating some welfare programs,” and imposing a 10 percent value-added tax on goods and services, which he estimates would generate up to $800 billion in revenue.

Yang also supports changing how the U.S. measures economic success, by moving away from traditional benchmarks like GDP growth and the stock market and focusing instead on the country’s standard of living, life expectancy and other metrics. He would also develop a new U.S. currency called a “Digital Social Credit” that could be exchanged for real dollars.

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