Bernie Sanders on Tax Reform
Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)
Capital gains & dividend tax cuts are giveaways to the rich
Sanders says a new plan in Congress is a giveaway to wealthy people. A key part of the legislation being debated in Washington this week extends a rate reduction on capital gains and dividend income for another two years. Sanders opposed the measure
because he says 43 % of the tax benefits will go to individuals who earn at least a million dollars a year. Sanders says, “I think that that’s absurd. I mean this is again another example of President Bush and the Republican leadership leaning over
backwards to help people who really don’t need any help. These are the wealthiest people in this country who are doing extraordinarily well and the help for the middle class is minimum.“
Sanders says he also opposed the bill because he feels it will
increase the national debt. Sanders says, ”According to the non partisan CBO, the major reason that President Bush has presided over the largest deficits in our nation’s history is due to his tax policy and this will only make a very bad situation worse.
Source: Bob Kinzel series of interviews on Vermont Public Radio
, Jun 11, 2006
Voted YES on increasing tax rate for people earning over $1 million.
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To put children ahead of millionaires and billionaires by restoring the pre-2001 top income tax rate for people earning over $1 million, and use this revenue to invest in LIHEAP; IDEA; Head Start; Child Care; nutrition; school construction and deficit reduction.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. SANDERS: The wealthiest people in the country have not had it so good since the 1920s. Their incomes are soaring, while at the same time the middle class is shrinking, and we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. The time is now to begin changing our national priorities and moving this country in a different direction.
This amendment restores the top income tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million a year, it raises $32.5 billion over 3 years, and invests that in our kids, including
$10 billion for special education. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KYL: The problem is we are spending the same dollar 3 or 4 times, it appears. The Sanders amendment is paid for by raising taxes another $32.5 billion, ostensibly from the rich; that is to say, by raising taxes on people who make over $1 million a year. Here is the problem with that. The budget on the floor already assumes the expiration of the current tax rates; that is to say, the rates on the highest level go from 35% to 39.6%, and that money is spent. If you took all the top-rate income, you would come up with $25 billion a year, not even enough to meet what is here, and that money has already been spent. The reality is somewhere or other, somehow, more taxes would have to be raised. I don't think the American people want to do that, particularly in the current environment. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 43-55
Bill S.Amdt.4218 to S.Con.Res.70
; vote number 08-S064
on Mar 13, 2008
Voted NO on allowing AMT reduction without budget offset.
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To exempt from pay-as-you-go enforcement modifications to the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) that prevent millions of additional taxpayers from having to pay the AMT.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. GRASSLEY: The Senate voted to make sure that middle-class America didn't pay the AMT, and we did it without an offset, by a vote of [about 95%]. So here we are again with an opportunity to say to middle-class America that we are not going to tax the people who were not supposed to be hit by the AMT. This amendment gives us an opportunity to get over that hurdle that is in this budget resolution that, under pay-go, you would have to have an offset for the AMT. Unless my amendment is adopted, the 25 million families who will be hit by the AMT increase will get a tax increase of over $2,000 apiece. They deserve a guarantee of relief.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:
Sen. CONRAD: If you want to blow a hole in the budget as big as all outdoors, here is your opportunity--a trillion dollars not paid for, a trillion dollars that we are going to go out and borrow from the Chinese and Japanese. That makes absolutely no sense. I urge my colleagues to vote no.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 47-51
Bill S.Amdt.4276 to S.Con.Res.70
; vote number 08-S078
on Mar 13, 2008
Voted NO on raising the Death Tax exemption to $5M from $1M.
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To protect small businesses, family ranches and farms from the Death Tax by providing a $5 million exemption, a low rate for smaller estates and a maximum rate no higher than 35%.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. KYL: This amendment is a reprise of what we did last year in offering to reform the estate tax, sometimes referred to as the death tax. Now, in the budget itself, there is a provision to allow the death tax to be changed from the current law to a top rate of 45% and an exempted amount of $3.5 million, and there are some other features. My amendment would reduce that top rate to no higher than 35% so that if you had more than one rate, at least the top rate could not exceed 35%, and both of the two spouses would have a $5 million exempted amount before the estate tax would kick in. Now, the reason for my amendment is: current law [is] getting up to a high rate of 55% and an exempted amount of either $2 million or
$1 million, probably $1 million--a continued unfair burden on primarily America's small businesses and farms.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. CONRAD: This amendment would virtually eliminate the estate tax. Let me say why. Let me first say there is no death tax in the country. Of course, if you poll people and you ask them: Do you want to eliminate the death tax? they will say sure. But you are not going to pay any tax when you die unless you have $2 million. There is no death tax in America. There is a tax on estates. At today's level of $2 million, that affects only 0.5% of estates. When the exemption reaches $3.5 million in 2009, 0.2% of estates will be taxed. If the amendment is agreed to, we would be borrowing money in the name of 99.8% of the American people, borrowing primarily from China & Japan, to give it to the Warren Buffets, the Paris Hiltons, & others of enormous wealth in this country.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 50-50
Reference: Kyl Amendment;
Bill S.Amdt.4191 to S.Con.Res.70
; vote number 08-S050
on Feb 13, 2008
Voted NO on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Amendment would accommodate the full repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, preventing 23 million families and individuals from being subject to the AMT in 2007, and millions of families and individuals in subsequent years.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This amendment repeals the AMT. Except for the telephone tax, the alternative minimum tax is the phoniest tax we have ever passed. The AMT, in 1969, was meant to hit 155 taxpayers who used legal means to avoid taxation, under the theory that everybody ought to pay some income tax.
This very year, more than 2,000 people who are very wealthy are not paying any income tax or alternative minimum income tax. So it is not even working and hitting the people it is supposed to hit. Right now, this year, 2007, the year we are in, there are 23 million families that are going to be hit by this tax. It is a phony revenue machine, over 5 years, $467 billion dollars.
We are going to have to have a point of order this year to keep these 23 million taxpayers from paying this tax. We might as well do away with it right now, once and for all, and be honest about it.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The reality of the budget resolution is this may not have anything to do with eliminating the alternative minimum tax. The one thing it will do is reduce the revenue of the Government over the next 5 years by $533 billion, plunging us right back into deficit. Look, we can deal with the AMT. We have dealt with it in the underlying budget resolution for the next 2 years. There will be no increase in the number of people affected by the AMT for the next 2 years under the budget resolution, and that is paid for. Unfortunately, this amendment is not paid for. It would plunge us back into deficit. I urge my colleagues to vote no.
Reference: Grassley Amendment;
Bill S.Amdt.471 on S.Con.Res.21
; vote number 2007-108
on Mar 23, 2007
Voted NO on raising estate tax exemption to $5 million.
An amendment to raise the death tax exemption to $5 million; reducing the maximum death tax rate to 35%; and to promote economic growth by extending the lower tax rates on dividends and capital gains.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
It is disappointing to many family businesses and farm owners to set the death tax rate at what I believe is a confiscatory 45% and set the exemption at only $3.5 million, which most of us believe is too low. This leaves more than 22,000 families subject to the estate tax each year.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
You can extend all the tax breaks that have been described in this amendment if you pay for them.
The problem with the amendment is that over $70 billion is not paid for. It goes on the deficit, which will drive the budget right out of balance. We will be going right back into the deficit ditch. Let us resist this amendment. People could support it if it was paid for, but it is not. However well intended the amendment is, it spends $72.5 billion with no offset. This amendment blows the budget. This amendment takes us from a balance in 2012 right back into deficit. My colleagues can extend those tax cuts if they pay for them, if they offset them. This amendment does not pay for them; it does not offset them; it takes us back into deficit. It ought to be defeated.
Reference: Kyl Amendment;
Bill S.Amdt.507 on S.Con.Res.21
; vote number 2007-083
on Mar 21, 2007
Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends.
Vote to reduce federal spending by $56.1 billion over five years by retaining a reduced tax rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as.
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act;
Bill HR 4297
; vote number 2005-621
on Dec 8, 2005
- Decreasing the number of people that will be required to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
- Allowing for deductions of state and local general sales taxes through 2007 instead of 2006
- Lengthening tax credits for research expenses
- Increasing the age limit for eligibility for food stamp recipients from 25 to 35 years
- Continuing reduced tax rates of 15% and 5% on capital gains and dividends through 2010
- Extending through 2007 the expense allowances for environmental remediation costs (the cost of cleanup of sites where petroleum products have been released or disposed)
Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification.
Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bill Rep Thomas [R, CA-22];
; vote number 2004-472
on Sep 23, 2004
- Extension of Family Tax Provisions
- Repeals the scheduled reduction (15 to 10 percent) for taxable years beginning before January 1, 2005, of the refundability of the child tax credit.
- Extends through 2005 the increased exemption from the alternative minimum tax for individual taxpayers.
- Extends through 2005 the following expiring tax provisions:
- the tax credit for increasing research activities;
- the work opportunity tax credit;
- the welfare-to-work tax credit;
- the authority for issuance of qualified zone academy bonds;
- the charitable deduction for donations by corporations of computer technology and equipment used for educational purposes;
- the tax deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers;
- the expensing of environmental remediation costs;
- the designation of a District of Columbia enterprise zone
Voted NO on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the $1,000 per child tax credit that is scheduled to revert to $700 per child in 2005. It would raise the amount of income a taxpayer may earn before the credit begins to phase out from $75,000 to $125,000 for single individuals and from $110,000 to $250,000 for married couples. It also would permit military personnel to include combat pay in their gross earnings in order to calculate eligibility for the child tax credit.
Reference: Child Credit Preservation and Expansion Act;
Bill HR 4359
; vote number 2004-209
on May 20, 2004
Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend tax provisions eliminating the so-called marriage penalty. The bill would make the standard deduction for married couples double that of single taxpayers. It would also increase the upper limit of the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples to twice that of singles. It also would make permanent higher income limits for married couples eligible to receive the refundable earned-income tax credit.
Reference: Marriage Penalty Relief;
Bill HR 4181
; vote number 2004-138
on Apr 28, 2004
Voted NO on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the cuts in last year's $1.35 trillion tax reduction package, many of which are set to expire in 2010. It would extend relief of the marriage penalty, reductions in income tax rates, doubling of the child tax credit, elimination of the estate tax, and the expansion of pension and education provisions. The bill also would revise a variety of Internal Revenue Service tax provisions, including interest, and penalty collection provisions. The penalties would change for the failure to pay estimated taxes; waive minor, first-time error penalties; exclude interest on unintentional overpayments from taxable income; and allow the IRS greater discretion in the disciplining of employees who have violated policies.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lewis, R-KY;
Bill HR 586
; vote number 2002-103
on Apr 18, 2002
Voted NO on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts.
Vote to pass a bill that would grant $99.5 billion in federal tax cuts in fiscal 2002, for businesses and individuals.
The bill would allow more individuals to receive immediate $300 refunds, and lower the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 18%.
Bill HR 3090
; vote number 2001-404
on Oct 24, 2001
Voted NO on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years.
Vote to pass a bill that would cut all income tax rates and make other tax cuts of $958.2 billion over 10 years. The bill would convert the five existing tax rate brackets, which range from 15 to 39.6 percent, to a system of four brackets with rates of 10 to 33 percent.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA;
Bill HR 1836
; vote number 2001-118
on May 16, 2001
Voted NO on eliminating the Estate Tax ("death tax").
Vote to pass a bill that would gradually reduce revenue by $185.5 billion over 10 years with a repeal of the estate tax by 2011.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Dunn, R-WA;
Bill HR 8
; vote number 2001-84
on Apr 4, 2001
Voted NO on eliminating the "marriage penalty".
Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes for married couple by approximately $195 billion over 10 years by removing provisions that make taxes for married couples higher than those for two single people. The bill is identical to HR 6 that was passed by the House in February, 2000.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX;
Bill HR 4810
; vote number 2000-392
on Jul 12, 2000
Voted NO on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business.
Provide an estimated $46 billion in tax cuts over five years. Raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour over two years. Reduce estate and gift taxes, grant a full deduction on health insurance for self-employed individuals, increase the deductible percentage of business meal expenses to 60 percent in 2002, and designate 15 renewal communities in urban rural areas.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lazio, R-NY;
Bill HR 3081
; vote number 2000-41
on Mar 9, 2000
American People's Dividend: Give $300 to every person.
Sanders adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:
The ProblemPresident Bush argues that upper income people pay a larger share of the taxes, therefore they should get a larger tax cut. We disagree. These people have significantly benefited from the economic boom of the 1990s, while those in the bottom range of incomes have received little benefit. It’s these folks that we must help. President Bush’s plan is “Reaganomics” revisited and it’s fiscally irresponsible. Despite spending $1.6 trillion or more, the President’s tax plan gives little to nothing for those with little income. In fact, anyone below 140% of the poverty line, will get a zero tax cut.
The SolutionThe Progressive Caucus believes that tax relief must flow to those who need it the most, the working class and people with limited incomes. We have endorsed an idea called the American People’s Dividend. We’ll give a dividend to every American, because every American is an equal shareholder in America. We estimate the total cost to be about $900 billion
over 10 years. The plan will give to every person about a $300 refundable tax credit. A married couple with 3 children will receive $1500, $300 for each member of the family. This plan is simple, easy to administer, and progressive. The plan could provide an economic stimulus since it would put money in people’s pockets immediately. Unlike the Bush proposal, which reserves 40% of the tax benefits for the wealthiest 1% of the population, our proposal gives the wealthiest 1% exactly 1% of the tax relief. This makes the bulk of tax relief available for the bulk of the population. The American People’s Dividend is payable every year the federal budget is in surplus.
Source: Progressive Caucus Press Release, "Tax Relief" 01-CPC2 on Feb 8, 2001
|Comparison of Progressive Tax Plan & Bush’s Plan|
|The Wealthy||The Low Income|
|Progressive Caucus American Peoples Dividend||$300||$300|
|President Bush’s Tax Cuts||$$46,000||$0|
Rated 28% by NTU, indicating a "Big Spender" on tax votes.
Sanders scores 28% by NTU on tax-lowering policies
Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers.
The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.
Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003
Rated 100% by the CTJ, indicating support of progressive taxation.
Sanders scores 100% by the CTJ on taxationissues
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:
About CTJ (from their website, www.ctj.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes progressive taxation (approx. 235 members)
- 21% - 79%: mixed record on progressive taxation (approx. 39 members)
- 80%-100%: favors progressive taxation (approx. 190 members)
Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ's mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws.
Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:
Source: CTJ website 06n-CTJ on Dec 31, 2006
- Fair taxes for middle and low-income families
- Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share
- Closing corporate tax loopholes
- Adequately funding important government services
- Reducing the federal debt
- Taxation that minimizes distortion of economic markets
Minimum tax rate of 30% for those earning over $1 million.
Sanders co-sponsored Paying a Fair Share Act
Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012:
- Amends the Internal Revenue Code to require an individual taxpayer whose adjusted gross income exceeds $1 million to pay a minimum tax rate of 30% of the excess of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income over the taxpayer's modified charitable contribution deduction for the taxable year (tentative fair share tax).
- Establishes the amount of such tax as the excess of the tentative fair share tax over the excess of the sum of the taxpayer's regular tax liability, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) amount, and the payroll tax for the taxable year;
- Provides for a phase-in of such tax.
- Requires an inflation adjustment to the $1 million income threshold for taxable years beginning after 2013.
- Expresses the sense of the Senate that Congress should enact tax reform that repeals unfair and unnecessary tax loopholes and expenditures, simplifies the tax system, and makes sure that the wealthiest taxpayers pay a fair share of taxes.
Source: HR3903/S2230 12-S2230 on Mar 22, 2012
Other candidates on Tax Reform:
Bernie Sanders on other issues:
Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
Senate Vacancies 2013:
MA:Gomez(R,lost special election)
Senate races Nov. 2014:
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Page last updated: Dec 21, 2013