Categorized | Rowling~Sheryl, USA

Oy vey! Tax proposals from Trump, Clinton

By Sheryl Rowling

Sheryl Rowling

Sheryl Rowling

SAN DIEGO –The media has been covering the presidential election nonstop. At least the Olympics have been a good distraction! As the Olympics come to a close, we’ll be back to seeing more of the election year soap opera. But, what about real information? We’ve heard very little about the candidates’ tax policies. Let’s take a look:

Tax brackets

Trump’s initial proposal reduced the current seven tax brackets to four, with the top rate dropping from 39.6% to 25%, and no tax due for individuals with incomes under $25,000 ($50,000 for married couples filing jointly). Trump has recently announced changes to this proposal further reducing the number of brackets to three: 12%, 25%, and 33%. The Clinton campaign’s tax plans do not reflect changes to existing tax brackets, but add a new 4% “fair share surcharge” on taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $5 million.

Translation: Trump is lowering taxes for the highest income taxpayers; Hillary is raising them.
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Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends

Currently, lower tax rates generally apply to qualified dividends and to capital gains from the sale of investments held longer than one year. Clinton’s campaign recommends increasing the holding period for long-term capital gains to two years and adding medium-term holding periods that gradually reduce the top long-term rate down to 20% for assets held for more than six years. Plans initially released by the Trump campaign indicated no changes to the current rules.

Translation: Trump is lowering taxes for the highest income taxpayers; Hillary is raising them.

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Alternative minimum tax (AMT)

The AMT is a separate tax calculation that imposes an additional tax on high income taxpayers with a disproportionate share of write-offs. The AMT is set at 26 to 28 percent and kicks in when the net regular tax is lower. The Trump campaign has called for elimination of the AMT while the Clinton plan would add a new layer, imposing a minimum tax of 30% on those with incomes exceeding $1 million.

Translation: Trump is lowering taxes for the highest income taxpayers; Hillary is raising them.

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Deductions, exemptions, and exclusions

Proposals released by both candidates would limit itemized deductions for higher-income filers. The Clinton plan would limit the benefit of itemized deductions to 28% (meaning that the benefit of these deductions would be reduced for individuals in higher tax brackets). Charitable deductions would be excluded from this limitation. The Trump plan would accelerate the limitation of itemized deductions and the phase-out of personal exemptions for higher-income filers, while the treatment of deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest would remain unchanged.

Translation: Trump is lowering taxes for the highest income taxpayers; Hillary is raising them.

Estate tax

The two campaigns have very different views of the existing federal estate tax. The Clinton campaign proposes increasing the top estate tax rate from 40% to 45%, and decreasing the estate tax exclusion from $5.45 million to $3.5 million. The Trump campaign proposes eliminating the federal estate tax.

Translation: Trump is lowering taxes for the highest income taxpayers; Hillary is raising them.

Summary

The tax proposals of the two candidates differ as would be expected. One side will generate additional Federal funding while the other would reduce it. Nu? How should we decide? Voters will need to consider tax proposals in context with other aspects of each campaign’s platform when making their decisions.

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Rowling  is a certified public accountant, personal finance specialist, and principal of Rowling & Associates. She may be contacted via [email protected].  Comments intended for publication in the space below must be accompanied by the letter writer’s first and last name and by his/ her city and state of residence (city and country for those outside the U.S.)

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