The White House on Wednesday outlined a tax plan that would add trillions of dollars to the U.S. deficit while overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthiest corporations and individuals—including President Trump. The skeletal plan, which the White House unveiled as a single-page document, would lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent—though corporations rarely pay the current rate of 35 percent. Trump’s plan would also end the estate tax, referred to by opponents as the “death tax.” This is White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.
Gary Cohn: “We’re going to repeal the death tax. The threat of being hit by the death tax leaves small business owners and farmers in this country to waste countless hours and resources on complicated estate planning to make sure their children aren’t hit with a huge tax when they die. No one wants to see their children have to sell the family business to pay an unfair tax.”
IRS statistics show the estate tax is paid by just the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans. Trump’s tax plan would also end the alternative minimum tax, a move that would benefit the richest Americans, including President Trump. A leaked 2005 tax return shows Donald Trump paid out $36.6 million in federal income taxes that year—most of it due to the alternative minimum tax. At the White House, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the president would not make his tax returns public, even though Trump previously said he would release the returns after a “routine audit.”
Reporter: “My second question is: Will the president release his tax returns, so that Americans—”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: “The president has no intention. The president has released plenty of information, and I think he’s given more financial disclosure than anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information on this.”
Trump’s tax proposal would also lower the capital gains tax rate and would decrease the number of income tax brackets from seven to just three, while lowering the tax rate for the wealthiest individuals by nearly 4 percentage points. The plan was blasted by congressional Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who called it a “wish list for billionaires.” We’ll have more on Trump’s tax plan after headlines with James Henry of the Tax Justice Network.