How Clinton, Trump Would Affect Your Tax Returns

Wednesday, August 3rd 2016, 12:26 pm
By: News 9

One of the few issues on which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree is that the U.S. tax system needs to change. Beyond that, however, they have vastly different ideas for how to make America's taxes fairer and more effective.

For instance, Clinton, who last week became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party, wants to overhaul the capital gains tax to encourage longer-term investments and to expand the scope of the estate tax. She also has called for tax increases for wealthy Americans.

Trump, head of a family-operated real estate empire, wants to abolish the estate tax, which critics like him have dubbed the "death tax." He's also proposing an income tax cut that would benefit most Americans, although the richest taxpayers would reap the biggest savings.

Here's a closer look at each candidate's plan.

Hillary Clinton


  • The former Secretary of State is proposing to increase taxes dramatically on the wealthiest taxpayers, which she defines as households earning $732,000 or more annually
  • Supports a 4 percent surcharge on people with adjusted gross incomes above $5 million and the so-called "Buffett rule" that requires filers with AGI above $1 million to pay a 30 percent minimum effective tax rate. (Billionaire Warren Buffett has repeatedly argued that its unfair for wealthy executives to pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes that their secretaries and assistants do)
  • Supports a 28 percent cap on certain specified exemptions and deductions
  • Backs a tax on sodas, like the one recently enacted in Philadelphia, to cut back on consumption of sugared drinks and help fund health care causes

Capital gains tax/estate tax

  • Currently, the top capital gains on assets held for less than one year is 39.6 percent and 2o percent on assets held for longer than a year. Clinton would maintain the top rate at its current level but would gradually decrease the levy the longer than a taxpayer held onto an investment, capping it at 20 percent after six years. The goal: encouraging investors to think long-term by giving them a tax incentive to hold onto an investment
  • Supports lowering the exclusion for the estate tax to $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for married couples, compared with current levels of $5.4 million for individuals and $10.8 million for couples

Business taxes

  • Wants a tax on large financial institutions
  • Backs a crackdown on inversions when companies change their corporate citizenship and other tax avoidance strategies that have come under fire
  • Promises to end "earnings stripping" when a U.S. affiliate "strips" earnings from its U.S. taxable income and sends it to a parent based in a country with a much lower tax rate or no rate at all

Small business

  • Clinton has vowed to provide targeted tax relief to businesses with 1 to 5 employees and to will simplify the tax process
  • Promised to provide greater access to capital and cut government red tape for these enterprises

The impact

  • According to the Tax Policy Center (TPC), taxpayers in the top bracket would have an average tax increase of $4,527 (1.7 percent reduction in after-tax income) Those with incomes between $295,000 and $732,000 in the 80th and 95th percentiles would pay an average of $2,700 (a 0.8 percent reduction) more in taxes and those in the 0.1 percent with income greater than $3.8 million would see an average tax increase of about $520,000 (7.6 percent reduction)
  • The bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little to no changes to their taxes
  • TPC estimates her plan would increase revenue by $1.1 trillion over the next decade
  • Critics have said there is little chance that Congress would go along with her proposals

Donald Trump


  • Will raise the standard deduction, the amount of money that people who don't itemize subtract from their taxes by about four times their current levels to about $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 for joint filers. If enacted, the proposal would remove 75 million people from the tax rolls
  • Promises the lowest tax rates since before World War II
  • Vows to shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to four
  • Eliminates the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Vows to end most deductions and loopholes available to wealthy people like himself such as the carried interest deduction that benefits some ultra-rich managers of private equity funds.
  • Will limit itemized deductions except for charitable giving and mortgage interest

Capital gains tax/estate tax

  • Like many Republicans, Trump has vowed to eliminate the estate tax which he calls the "death tax"
  • Would cap taxes on dividends and capital gains at a top marginal rate of 20 percent


  • Supports reducing the corporate tax rate from 39 percent (35 percent federal statutory rate and the average rate levied by states) to 15 percent. Business groups and conservative economists have complained for years that the U.S. rate, which the conservative Tax Foundation says is the highest in the industrialized world, places American companies at a competitive disadvantage
  • Will eliminate most business tax deductions and end the ability of corporations to defer taxes on income earned abroad
  • Promises to put a "reasonable cap" on the deductibility of business interest expenses
  • Backs allowing companies to bring back the trillions they have overseas at a one-time "significantly discounted 10 percent tax rate"

Small businesses

  • Promises relief to freelancers and unincorporated small businesses who are taxed at the higher personal income tax rates. His proposal calls for a new income tax code that matches the 15 percent corporate rate for larger businesses

The impact

  • According to the Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent would receive an average tax cut of $275,000 (17.5 percent of their after-tax income) while the 0.1 percent would get reductions averaging more than $1.3 million (19 percent). Lower-income households would get a cut averaging $128 (1 percent) and middle-income folks would get an average decline of $2,700 (5 percent)
  • Experts estimate the plan would reduce government revenue between $9.8 trillion and $12 trillion over the next decade
  • Many tax policy experts have panned it

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