Tom Hebert

Trump Economy Delivers Lowest Unemployment Rate in 50 Years

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, January 10th, 2020, 6:50 AM PERMALINK

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ December jobs report shows that President Trump’s economy has delivered the lowest unemployment rate in half a century at 3.5 percent. The U-6 rate, a measure encompassing underemployed workers and discouraged job-seekers, fell to an all-time low of 6.7 percent. 

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, showing that the Trump economic agenda of tax cuts and regulatory relief is still working for American workers. Businesses have created over 7 million jobs since Trump was elected. 

In 34 of the past 37 months since Trump was elected, businesses have added more than 100,000 jobs a month. 734,000 construction jobs and 514,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since Trump was elected. 

Wages continued to climb in December. For production and non-supervisory workers, wages increased by 3 percent, continuing a 17-month trend. Wage growth for workers now outpaces wage growth for managers, and wage growth for those without a four-year college degree now outpaces wage growth for those with a four-year college degree. 

The labor force participation rate also held steady at 63.5 percent, and the total employment level rose to 158.8 million, a record-high. The underemployment rate, a measure encompassing undermployed Americans and discouraged job-seekers, fell to a record low of 6.7 percent. 

The stock market is also booming. When Trump was elected, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 18,000. The Dow has now hit 29,000 for the first time. 

The  solid December jobs numbers are continued evidence that the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is continuing to grow the economy two years after Trump signed it into law. 

Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates.

Families are also seeing direct tax reduction – a family of four with annual income of $73,000 (median family income) will see a tax cut of more than $2,058, a 58 percent reduction in federal taxes. In net, households are paying an average of 24.9 percent in lower taxes according to a report released by H&R Block based on their clients’ tax returns. 

Tax cuts and deregulation championed by the Trump Administration are continuing to deliver a strong economy for all Americans.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Dem SALT Bill Another Attempt to Undermine Trump Tax Cuts

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Wednesday, December 11th, 2019, 8:00 AM PERMALINK

The Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee will consider legislation that would roll back the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) by eroding the law’s $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. While Democrats claim they care about the middle class, they are instead focusing on legislation that exclusively benefits their wealthy blue-state constituents. 

The Democrat legislation would temporarily raise the SALT cap for married couples to $20,000 in 2019, and then fully repealing the new cap in 2020 and 2021. Starting in 2022, the SALT cap would revert back to $10,000, although Democrats would likely push to extend the $20,000 cap for the next decade. Democrats would also raise the top tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and lower the income threshold for inclusion in the top bracket.  

Before the TCJA, taxpayers could deduct an unlimited amount of state and local taxes from their federal tax returns, a provision that mainly benefited the wealthy blue states. Technically, a New Yorker with a $20,000 state tax bill had access to the same SALT deduction as a Nebraskan with a $5,000 state tax bill. In a pre-TCJA world, the Nebraskan would take the standard deduction instead of the SALT deduction, while the New Yorker would itemize and take the full SALT deduction. This creates a de facto subsidy for blue states. 

Democrats are eager to repeal the SALT cap because it would be a windfall for their wealthy blue-state constituents. The unlimited deduction effectively created two different federal tax rates: one for the wealthy in blue states, and one for the middle class in red states. 

A recent report from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation shows that repealing the SALT cap would cut $40 billion in taxes for millionaires. In total, 94 percent of the tax breaks generated from ending the cap would be enjoyed by taxpayers making more than $200,000 a year. 

This stunt is another step in the left’s campaign to undermine President Trump, only this time, Democrats are enabling their blue-state constituents to commit federal tax arbitrage. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted an end-run around the cap by allowing New Yorkers to pay their local property taxes into a state-run charitable fund. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently forced 41 fellow Democrats to vote to overturn the SALT cap. 

The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have rightfully defended the TCJA from Democrat attacks –– the IRS recently issued new rules and guidance to stop these blue-state schemes. 

The TCJA has been successful for Americans across the country. A family of four with annual income of $73,000 is seeing a 60 percent reduction in federal taxes, totaling more than $2,058.  Over 23 million families have benefited from the TCJA’s double child tax credit, and nearly 5 million families have not had to pay the onerous Alternative Minimum Tax thanks to the TCJA. GDP and wage growth also remain robust since Trump signed the TCJA into law. 

Democrats prove their hypocrisy in their constant battle to sabotage the TCJA. While Democrats claim to be the party of the middle class, they are fighting to dismantle the very law that gave 90 percent of middle class Americans a tax cut. While Democrats claim they want to raise taxes on the wealthy, they are fighting tooth and nail to deliver a massive windfall for their wealthy blue-state constituents. 

Ultimately, this Democrat SALT bill proves that the left will stop at nothing to undercut the Trump economic agenda.

Photo Credit: kidTruant


ATR Supports President Trump's Schedule B Rule

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019, 10:52 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist submitted the following comments on President Trump's proposed rule to reform Schedule B. This important proposal would streamline the filing process for nonprofits and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information. 

You can find the full comments here or below: 

CC:PA:LPD:PR
(REG-102508-16)
Room 5203
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 7604
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, D.C. 20044

Dear Sir or Madam:

I write in support of the Trump Administration’s proposed rule to reform Schedule B, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations,” a proposal that would streamline the filing process for nonprofits and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information. 

Today, tax exempt organizations must disclose the name, address, and amount donated for each donation above $5,000 on the Schedule B form. These Schedule B forms are submitted to the IRS, redacted of names and addresses. Under the proposed rule, only 501(c)(3)s and 527s would still have to file the Form 990, Schedule B, but all non-profits would need to present the information upon IRS request.

Schedule B forms are not used for any official purpose – the IRS is prohibited from sharing this sensitive information. During the Obama administration, there were several cases where agency officials leaked sensitive Schedule B information for political purposes. In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it.

The proposed rule would hold the IRS more accountable and protect free speech of donors and those working for non-profits. American citizens have the right to associate with and donate to organizations freely and privately. Unelected IRS bureaucrats should not be able to use Schedule B information to chill political speech for Americans.

Instead of serving a legitimate purpose, the disclosure requirement creates needless compliance costs on both non-profits and the IRS. Under the proposed rule, the information available to the public will not change, though money and time will be saved for both taxpayers and the IRS by eliminating this tedious process. In fact, The Institute for Free Speech estimates that nonprofits would save about $63 million per year compliance costs if Schedule B were repealed. 

Critics have falsely stated that the rule will allow for illegal foreign transactions.  However, there are already measures in place to track these transactions, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will admit to funneling illegal money on the form. Even if the IRS did suspect laws were being broken, it has no authority to share the information it collects with the FCC and the DOJ, the two agencies with the ability to enforce campaign finance laws.

This proposed rule will save taxpayers time and money while also protecting privacy and free speech for all Americans. ATR strongly supports this rule and urges Congress to follow the Trump Administration’s lead by codifying Schedule B reform into law.

Onward, 

Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Despite Liberal Misinformation, the Trump Tax Cuts Are Working

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, December 9th, 2019, 2:19 PM PERMALINK

Despite the left’s claims, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is still benefiting all Americans two years after President Donald Trump signed the tax cuts into law.  

Reality has not matched the left’s rhetoric. When Trump signed the TCJA into law, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed tax cuts for the American people, saying the TCJA was akin to “Armageddon” and bonuses given to American workers were “crumbs.” 

Two years later, taxpayers are still benefiting from the TCJA’s individual tax rate cuts: 

  • 90 percent of wage earners have seen more money in their paychecks. 
  • Taxpayers earning between $20,000 and $50,000 are seeing net federal tax cuts of 10 percent or higher, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. 
  • 91 percent of taxpayers with annual income between $64,000 and $108,000 are seeing a 2018 federal tax cut averaging $1,400, according to the left of center Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. 

Families large and small are also benefiting from the Trump tax cuts: 

  • A single parent with one child with annual income of $41,000 saw a tax cut of $1,304, a 73 percent reduction in federal taxes. 
  • A family of four with annual income of $73,000 is seeing a 60 percent reduction in federal taxes, totaling more than $2,058. 
  • According to the Heritage Foundation, the typical American family will be almost $45,000 better off over the next decade because of higher take-home pay and a stronger economy.
     

American workers have also benefited from the TCJA’s corporate rate cut. Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates. 

The left’s claims that the TCJA wasn’t “paid for” have also proven false. Stronger economic growth has already paid for 80 percent of the costs of the tax cuts according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimates before and after the law was enacted.

The left also misled the American people about tax refunds earlier this year, saying that Republicans raised taxes on Americans because the first few weeks of the filing season saw slightly lower refunds. Again, this was false – tax refunds ended up being at the same levels as 2018. 

Ultimately, the left’s constant disinformation campaign against the Trump tax cuts doesn’t change the fact that the law has been massively successful for millions of Americans.  

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Trump Economy Adds 266K Jobs In November

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, December 6th, 2019, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

President Donald Trump’s economy added 266,000 jobs in November, defying market projections that businesses would create 185,000 jobs last month. November’s explosive job creation marks 7 million jobs added since Trump was elected. 

In 33 of the past 36 months since Trump was elected, businesses have added more than 100,000 jobs a month. 

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that goods-producing employment (mining and logging, construction, manufacturing) saw an increase of 48,000 jobs in November, and service jobs saw an increase of 206,000. Since Trump was elected, the construction industry has created 713,000 jobs. 

Wages also continue to climb. Over the past year, average hourly earnings for American workers have increased by 3.1 percent. October is the 16th consecutive month that wages have grown above 3 percent –– prior to this streak, wages had not reached 3 percent growth during the previous 10 years. Workers are also experiencing higher wage growth than managers. 

The unemployment rate has decreased to 3.5 percent, marking a 50-year low. November was the 21st consecutive month that the unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent, the longest streak in almost 50 years. 

The strong November jobs numbers are continued evidence that the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is continuing to revitalize the economy nearly two years after Trump signed it into law. 

Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates.

Families are also seeing direct tax reduction – a family of four with annual income of $73,000 (median family income) will see a tax cut of more than $2,058, a 58 percent reduction in federal taxes. In net, households are paying an average of 24.9 percent in lower taxes according to a report released by H&R Block based on their clients’ tax returns. 

Just in time for Christmas, tax cuts and deregulation championed by the Trump Administration is continuing to deliver a prosperous economy for all Americans.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Pelosi 95% Drug Tax Will Lead To 100 Fewer Cures Created

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, 9:39 AM PERMALINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to levy a 95 percent tax on drug manufacturers could prevent 100 lifesaving medicines from being created over the next decade. 

The White House Council of Economic Advisors has released a report on H.R. 3, the disingenuously named Lower Drug Costs Now Act. While Pelosi claims that her bill will save taxpayers money, CEA projects that the resulting worse health outcomes due to lack of access to cures will cost $1 trillion a year for the next ten years. H.R. 3 also creates new entitlements for vision and dental that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Pelosi bill imposes a retroactive, 95 percent excise tax on up to 250 drugs if a manufacturer does not agree to government-imposed prices. The tax starts at a 65 percent rate, increasing by 10 percent every quarter a manufacturer is out of “compliance.”

The report shows that the Pelosi tax will lead to fewer cures, shorter lives, and less access to quality healthcare for American patients. If implemented, the Pelosi tax will prevent cures for diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, and epilepsy from being available for American patients.

It gets worse. CEA forecasts that H.R. 3 will reduce Americans’ average life expectancy by approximately four months over the next decade. This drop in life expectancy is due to the decrease in access to drugs that will inevitably occur when the government slaps drug manufacturers with a 95 percent tax on their lifesaving products. 

The Pelosi tax will also have wide-ranging negative impacts on America’s population health. Estimates show that $2,000 in spending on pharmaceutical research and development increases population health by one statistical life-year. If implemented, CEA projects that the Pelosi tax would reduce population health by 37.5 million to 100 million life-years over the next decade. 

In sum, the CEA report shows that the Pelosi drug tax would lead to fewer cures, less access to lifesaving medicines, and a shorter lifespan for American patients. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Congress Should Act Now to Repeal Obamacare Taxes

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, December 2nd, 2019, 5:30 PM PERMALINK

In the last month of 2019, lawmakers have a chance to repeal several Obamacare taxes. If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, these taxes will begin to go into effect, devastating millions of American families and small businesses. 

Congress has already taken one step towards achieving this goal. This summer, an overwhelming 419-6 bipartisan Congressional majority voted to repeal the “Cadillac tax,” a 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided healthcare plans. The bill repealing the tax had 367  cosponsors, including members of the far left like Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and conservatives like Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

If Congress fails to ensure repeal, the tax will go into effect in 2022 on plans exceeding $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.

If implemented, the Cadilllac tax threatens the affordability and quality of healthcare for milions of Americans. According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of all companies which offer health insurance to their employees could face the tax by 2030. According to Cigna, the Cadillac Tax could cost families with high quality insurance plans as much as $3,400 per year.

In order to avoid the Cadillac tax threshold, employers would be forced to raise deductibles and copays in the plans they offer their employees. The left-leaning Tax Policy Center reported that, “70 percent of the revenue raised by the Cadillac tax will be through the indirect channel of higher income and payroll taxes, rather than through excise taxes collected from insurers.”

The Cadillac tax is also broadly unpopular with the American people – a 2018 poll had 81 percent of respondents in opposition to the tax. 

This is not the only Obamacare tax that Congress must act on.

The Obamacare health insurance tax (HIT) will go into effect at the end of the year if lawmakers fail to act. Although the tax is on insurance premiums, it is passed onto the middle class, seniors, and small businesses in the form of higher healthcare costs. 

The HIT is estimated to negatively impact the 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market and 23 million households covered through their jobs. In 2020 alone, the HIT is projected to add an estimated $16 billion to the cost of coverage for families and Medicare Advantage seniors. 

If lawmakers fail to repeal this harmful tax, the HIT will increase premiums by 2.2 percent per year and by almost $6,000 over the next decade for a typical family of four with small or large group insurance. This tax is also highly regressive – half of the HIT is paid by those earning less than $50,000 a year. 

The HIT is also bad for small businesses. Because the tax only applies to fully-insured plans, large corporations and unions (which are universally self-insured) emerge unscathed. According to the American Action Forum, the tax will directly impact 1.7 million small businesses. One estimate, conducted by the National Federation for Independent Businesses, estimates the tax could cost up to between 146,000 and 262,000 jobs over a decade. 

Congress should also repeal the medical device tax. Obamacare imposed a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices by manufacturers and small businesses. This tax covers common hospital equipment like X-Ray machines, MRI machines, and hospital beds.

The medical device tax was in effect from 2013 and 2015 but Congress has suspended the tax since 2016. When it was in effect, research indicates that the tax reduced research and development by $34 million in 2013 and disproportionately harmed companies with lower profit margins. This resulted in a loss of approximately 28,000 jobs.

In the few short weeks left of 2019, lawmakers should work swiftly to repeal these and other Obamacare taxes. If Congress fails to act, these taxes will crush millions of American families and small businesses.

Photo Credit: Charles Fettinger


It's Time For Pelosi To Bring USMCA Up For A Vote

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, November 26th, 2019, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

Recent news reports indicate that House Democrats are “within range” of reaching a deal on the United States–Mexico–Canada Trade Agreement (USCMA). 

This is positive news –– for months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has let the USMCA languish in the House. Instead of standing with workers and small businesses, Pelosi has allowed Big Labor to have veto power over an important agreement that will grow our economy and bring trade relations with Mexico and Canada into the 21st century. 

It is time for Congress to pass the USMCA. 

The USMCA is a much-needed update to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The global economy has changed significantly since NAFTA was ratified in 1992. The new USMCA recognizes this reality and modernizes trade relations between the three nations to better fit the 21st century global economy. 

The USMCA was finalized nearly a year ago, but Pelosi continues to sit on her hands and allow the far-left to hold the agreement hostage.  

There is no good reason for Pelosi to continue blocking the USMCA from a floor vote. 

The trade agreement will increase wages, increase GDP by $68.2 billion, and create 176,000 jobs, according to the International Trade Commission’s report.  It will also increase U.S. exports to Canada by $19 billion, and to Mexico by $14 billion.  The Tax Foundation estimates that these positive economic effects are identical to a 4% corporate tax cut. 

The trade deal would also be a boon for the automotive industry. The Office of the United States Trade Representative estimates that USCMA ratification would add $34 billion in new automotive manufacturing investment, $23 billion in new annual purchases of U.S. automotive parts, and 76,000 jobs in the next five years. 

Crucially, the USMCA protects American medical innovation by including 10 years of data protection for innovative biologic medicine. Strong protection for biologics is critical. Biologics are the next generation of medicines, and are more costly and complex to produce than other cures. Data protection recognizes the extraordinary time, resources, and opportunity cost that innovators must devote to go through the FDA approval process. 

Finally, the USMCA would help American farmers. The increased market opportunities for Americans is projected to increase agriculture exports by more than $314 million. Through USMCA negotiations, Canada agreed to open market access to American farmers who wish to sell dairy, poultry, and eggs in Canada. In return, Canada will have access to American dairy and peanut products. The industry would benefit from stabilization of international markets, especially the U.S.’s two biggest trading partners that buy close to 2/3 of U.S. agricultural exports. 

The evidence is clear –– swift passage of the USMCA would grow our economy, help American workers, and benefit small businesses all across the country. Pelosi should stop letting the most radical elements of the Democrat party have veto power over the USMCA and work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to swiftly ratify this important agreement. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


The IRS Is Wrong To Expand Audits of Conservation Easement Agreements

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Thursday, November 14th, 2019, 2:53 PM PERMALINK

The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that it plans a “significant increase” in audits for taxpayers engaged in conservation easements. This unfortunate development continues the IRS’s disturbing pattern of harassing taxpayers that have entered into easement agreements.

The fact is, taxpayer abuse of the conservation easement deduction is few and far between. A recent analysis of cases in which the IRS took taxpayers to court over easement valuations found that over 80 percent of taxpayers’ claimed valuations were upheld. 

The conservation easement deduction has existed for decades and incentivizes property owners to conserve land and historic sites by offering a charitable deduction. In order to claim the deduction, the taxpayer must agree to restrict their right to develop or alter the property. Organizations known as land trusts agree to monitor the restrictions placed on the property. 

The taxpayer typically can deduct up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) in any given year and carry forward any unused deductions for up to 15 years.  

Bipartisan Congressional majorities have consistently reaffirmed the conservation easement deduction. Congress initially codified the provision in 1976 and extended the provision in 1977. It was then made permanent in the Tax Treatment and Extension Act of 1980. In 2006, Congress narrowed the definition of conservation easements and expanded the deduction to 50 percent of AGI. In 2015, Congress made the expansion permanent. 

Despite this clear Congressional intent, the IRS has recently subjected taxpayers to unnecessary scrutiny over the deduction. In late 2016, the Obama IRS issued Notice 2017-10, which made partnership donations of conservation easements “listed transactions.” This subjected taxpayers to burdensome new filing requirements and onerous compliance costs. The IRS has also taken taxpayers to court over easement deductions, routinely challenging a tax benefit that Congress has expressly provided without evidence of taxpayer abuse. 

It is unfortunate that the IRS has decided to move forward and subject taxpayers that utilize the deduction to more scrutiny. Moving forward, if lawmakers and the IRS want to reform the deduction, they should do so through the proper legislative process and ensure that existing easements are protected. This means rejecting any retroactive disallowance of the easement deduction given that it would punish taxpayers for decisions already taken and would undermine confidence in the tax code.

Photo Credit: Tim Evanson


Warren’s Wealth Tax Could Double the Size of the IRS

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, 11:05 AM PERMALINK

Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax could result in over 80,000 new full-time IRS agents, more than doubling the size of the IRS according to ATR analysis. 

A recent report from the left-of-center Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) suggests spending $5 billion to properly enforce and administer a wealth tax.

If this money was spent exclusively on IRS employees, it would be the equivalent of 80,800 new full time agents based on the average salary of $61,800. 

In FY 2018, the IRS used 73,519 full-time agents, meaning the Warren wealth tax could more than double the size of the IRS.  

Even IRS lifers are admitting that the Warren wealth tax would be nearly impossible to administer. In a Bloomberg report former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said: “It would be difficult for the Service to get its arms around the wealth tax...The more money people have the more they tend to have in non-traditional assets.” 

Warren’s has proposed a wealth tax starting at 2 percent on Americans with assets above $50 million and 6 percent on taxpayers with more than $1 billion in assets. According to Warren’s analysis, this tax would raise taxes on American by $3.75 trillion over ten years – an extremely ambitious estimate that assumes high-earners do not relocate elsewhere.

Warren's wealth tax would empower IRS agents to keep a list of all household assets, an extremely invasive power. The Warren wealth tax also contains a 40% "exit tax." 

Even the Washington Post editorial board said this arrangement "conveys a certain authoritarian odor."

A wealth tax has failed every time it has been tried. In 1995, 15 OECD countries had a wealth tax. Today, only four still have a wealth tax: Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, and Spain. The 11 countries that repealed the wealth tax cited underwhelming revenue and extraordinary difficulty in collecting the tax as reasons for repeal.

The most recent country to repeal a wealth tax was France. The French wealth tax was imposed on assets over $1.4 million and led to an exodus of taxpayers from the country. In 2016 alone, 12,000 taxapayers left France, the highest outflow in the world. The year prior, in 2015, 10,000 millionaires left France for other countries, according to a report by New World Wealth.

The wealth tax proposed by Warren would be a nightmare to administer, would double the size of the IRS, would fail to generate revenue that supporters claim, and has failed every time it has been tried in the past. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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