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FinanceWhy White House, Democrats use $400,000 as threshold to tax the rich

Why White House, Democrats use $400,000 as threshold to tax the rich

President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York.

Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images

President Joe Biden and House Democrats have unveiled plans to increase taxes on households with greater than $400,000 of annual earnings, and minimize or preserve taxes for these beneath the line.

But what’s the significance of this tax-policy North Star?

At its core, the coverage goals to acquire extra tax income from the wealthiest Americans. Income of a minimum of $400,000 represents roughly the prime 1% to 2% of households, in accordance to tax knowledge and coverage specialists.

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But the causes for selecting $400,000 as a line demarcating the rich from decrease and center earners aren’t totally clear, since the quantity would not exactly match family tax statistics, specialists mentioned.

“It is an arbitrary threshold,” in accordance to Leonard Burman, who co-founded the Tax Policy Center, a joint undertaking of the Brookings Institute and the Urban Institute. “There’s no analytical justification for it.”

Spokespeople for the White House and House Ways and Means Committee did not return requests for remark.

Top 1% or 2%?

If extrapolating, these with a minimum of $400,000 of earnings could be nearer to the prime 2%, in accordance to Garrett Watson, a senior coverage analyst at the Tax Foundation.

However, these figures do not symbolize all American households; they solely embrace individuals who filed a tax return.

The knowledge due to this fact omits hundreds of thousands of non-filers, who’re largely low earners, and skew the proportion. (Nearly 27 million folks did not file a return in 2021, for instance, the Tax Policy Center estimates.)

Including this huge swath of decrease earners in estimates means a $400,000 earnings more than likely falls nearer to the prime 1% of complete U.S. households, Watson mentioned.

A $400,000 pledge

Tax pledges pegged to earnings ranges aren’t new. For instance, Democratic presidential contenders like John Kerry and Barack Obama used incomes of $200,000 and $250,000, respectively, for key components of their tax plans throughout their campaigns, Watson mentioned.

Biden’s larger $400,000 baseline might mirror rising earnings and wealth inequality in the U.S., Watson added.

There can also be a geographical justification — the recognition {that a} $400,000 earnings, whereas excessive in accordance to nationwide requirements, might not go as far in some main cities with excessive prices of dwelling.

“It’s less high in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco than it is in all the rest of the country,” Burman mentioned.


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