H-Rod’s ‘Fair Share Surcharge’ Raises the Politics of Envy to a New Level

Progressives, liberals, and leftists all LOVE to bemoan the fact that high-earners don’t pay their “fair share.” But they usually don’t give specifics as to what exactly that means – other than it should definitely be MORE.

Hillary Clinton just defined it with her “Fair Share Surcharge” proposal

  • Taxable income over $5 million would be subject to an additional 4% tax
  • Here are the current tax tables for 2016:Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 10.52.04 AM
  • Her program simply adds another bracket, of 43.6%, at the bottom of that list

The number of individuals that this program attempts to punish is hard to figure out. According to the most recent numbers, about 260,000 tax filers report income of over $1 million and the level needed to be in the top 400 earners was $70 million. For comparison, income of just under $400,000 puts one in the top 1%

However the numbers are parsed, the reality is that this “Fair Share Surcharge” will yield less than 1/10th of 1% of the $3.8 trillion federal budget – not a drop in the bucket. So, it can only be properly understood as populist posing for the sake of obtaining more of the envy-based vote. Why someone would want to punish successful Americans is utterly beyond comprehension.

Via Bloomberg:

Hillary Clinton called Monday for a 4 percent “surcharge” on Americans making more than $5 million annually, the first of several proposals she plans to unveil this week aimed at ensuring the wealthy pay a higher effective tax rate than the middle class.

“Right now we’re behind and we have to get the wealthy and the corporations to pay their fair share,” the Democratic presidential front-runner said at a campaign rally in Waterloo, Iowa.

The measure would apply to annual income above $5 million, raising $150 billion over a decade, said a campaign official who asked not to be named. It would affect two out of every 10,000 taxpayers, the official said.

Clinton has said a tax code that favors nurses and truck drivers over hedge fund managers could pay for job, infrastructure, and health research initiatives. Earlier this month she vowed to “go beyond” Warren Buffett’s plan to set the minimum effective tax rate for those earning $1 million per year at 30 percent. The billionaire endorsed her in December.

Clinton’s surcharge proposal comes as her leading rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, gathers strength in key early-state polls. He also wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and use the revenue to fund a range of proposals, including a single-payer health care system.

Sanders communications director Michael Briggs said Clinton’s proposal amounts to “too little too late,” and that the country needs “real tax reform which demands that Wall Street, corporate America and the top 2 percent start paying their fair share.”

Overseas, Clinton’s “fair share surcharge” bears some similarity to a French measure introduced in 2011. The French version applies a 4 percent surcharge to incomes exceeding 500,000 euros, according to an analysis published last year by Ernst & Young LLP, which called such surcharges an “increasingly popular way for governments too extract additional revenue,” particularly in Europe. French taxpayers earning from 250,000 to 500,000 euros pay a 3 percent surcharge.

The Republican presidential field in the U.S., in contrast to the Democrats, is largely opposed to raising taxes. During a Monday speech in his home state, Florida Senator Marco Rubio charged that Clinton’s “answer to every problem is to raise taxes and create a new government program,” according to prepared remarks. And, he noted, some in the GOP—including Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul—back the introduction of a value-added tax. “It’s not just her, or the avowed socialist running against her. Believe it or not, multiple Republican candidates for president support new taxes on the American people,” he said.


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