Biden Capital Gains Tax Would be Biggest Since the 1920s
The White House proposal to raise the capital gains tax is being framed as a way to get the idle rich to pay their fair share of taxes in support of a massive expansion of government.
But the administration’s plan to tax the gains people make from the sale of assets like stocks or bonds looks more punitive than fair on close inspection. According to the Tax Foundation, the Biden capital gains rate would ding some taxpayers at rates last seen in the Roaring 20s:
The highest capital gains tax rates in history date to the 1920s, when capital gains income was subject to a maximum rate of 77 percent. Those high rates were reduced starting in 1922 due to concerns about decreasing capital gains tax revenues, and going forward, long-term capital gains have mostly been taxed at lower rates than ordinary income.
Biden’s proposal would reverse that—raising the top rate on capital gains up to 43.4 percent when including the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). While not as high as the rates seen in the 1910s and 1920s, a 43.4 percent top rate would be the highest in modern times.
The Tax Foundation says such a rate would punish saving and investment – something most Americans aspire to do, not just the “rich.”
There’s also the idea that a higher rate won’t generate anything close to the revenue Mr. Biden’s sales team says it will. As Larry Lindsey writes in the Wall Street Journal, the proposed rate would actually cost the government money:
What makes this unusual is that 43.4% is well above the rate that would generate the most revenue for the government. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which does the official scoring and is no den of supply siders, puts the revenue-maximizing rate at 28%. My work several decades ago puts it about 10 points lower than that. That means President Biden is willing to accept lower revenue as the price of higher tax rates. The implications for his administration’s economic thinking are mind-boggling.
Lindsey’s bottom line: “The government is giving up revenue simply to punish the rich.”
That is mind-boggling. But it is also completely in line with the thinking in progressive-dominated DC today.