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How Democratic presidential candidates would raise taxes to pay for plans

tax forms

LANSING — Democratic presidential hopefuls propose aggressive spending plans to combat climate change, make college free or more affordable  and increase access to health care. 

They’re going to have to pay for them somehow.

Top candidates in Michigan’s March 10 primary are pushing plans to reverse some of Republcian President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for high earners and corporations. Some propose a new wealth tax that would target the rich in an attempt to reduce income inequality. 

Here’s a look at the Democratic candidates’ plans: 

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Facing questions over how he’d finance major proposals that could cost more than $50 trillion over 10 years, the Vermont senator in February released an extensive outline detailing a variety of tax proposals. He wants new taxes in Wall Street trading, more Social Security payroll taxes for those earning more than $250,000, an annual wealth tax of 1 percent to 8 percent on anyone with at least $32 million in net worth, a new “income inequality tax” on large corporations that pay their CEOs at least 50 times more than average workers and new fees and taxes on the fossil fuel industry. To finance his “Medicare for All” plan, Sanders has rolled out a “menu of financing options,” including a 4 percent income-based premium that would be paid by workers but exempt the first $29,000 in income for a family of four, a top tax rate of 52 percent on income over $10 million, higher capital gains taxes and a restored corporate income tax rate of 35 percent.  Read more about Sanders tax plans here

Joe Biden

The former vice president from Delaware has a $3.2 trillion tax plan to pay for his policy proposals. He wants to reverse Trump tax cuts for the wealthy by restoring a top income tax rate of 39.6 percent, up from 37 percent. Biden also wants to tax capital gains investment income at the same rate as other earnings for taxpayers with more than $1 million in income. He’s proposed scrapping a “step-up basis” provision shielding inherited capital gains from taxation. Biden also wants to raise the corporate income tax rate, which was slashed under Trump, and create a minimum corporate tax of 15 percent to ensure firms like Amazon can’t use deductions and credits to avoid any tax. Read more about Biden tax plans here and here


Tulsi Gabbard

The Hawaiian member of Congress hasn’t said much about tax policy during the campaign. She has previously backed Medicare for All legislation that proposes raising income taxes on the top 5 percent of earners, creating a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, instituting a “modest” tax on unearned income and creating a “small tax” on stock and bond transactions. She also wants to end fossil fuel subsidies to pay for clean energy initiatives. 

Editor's note: This article was updated March 5 to remove positions of candidates who have dropped out of the campaign since publication. Several candidates who have quit the race also will appear on Michigan's primary ballot.

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