Clinton Proposes Raising Estate Tax to 65%

The Clinton campaign believes its estate-tax plan will help pay for such progressive policies as expanding the child tax credit.
Matthew HellerSeptember 26, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has proposed raising the tax on inherited wealth to 65% for the largest estates, a stark contrast to her GOP opponent Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax.

Under current law, estates worth $5.45 million or more for an individual are taxed at a 45% rate. Clinton would raise the tax to 65% and adopt the structure proposed by her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, for larger estates.

Estates over $10 million per person would be taxed at 50%, those over $50 million per person at 55%, and those exceeding $500 million for a single person and $1 billion for married couples at 65%.

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According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the estate-tax increase and other new proposals that Clinton detailed last week would generate $260 billion over the next decade, enough to pay for her plans to simplify small business taxes and expand the child tax credit.

“Hillary Clinton has made a commitment throughout this campaign to make sure there is a plan to pay for the progressive policies we have laid out,” said Mike Shapiro, an economic adviser to Clinton.

The estate tax brings in relatively little money for the federal government and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, just 223 estates with a gross value exceeding $50 million filed taxable estate-tax returns in 2014.

But as The Wall Street Journal reports, “the tax carries symbolic and political weight,” with Republicans seeing it as “a patently unfair confiscation of wealth that punishes family-owned businesses” and Democrats seeing “as a leveling tool necessary to combat concentration of wealth.”

Clinton’s plan “will stop family-owned businesses including women and minority-owned businesses from being passed down to their children and grandchildren,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Forbes columnist Tim Worstall said “pretty much no one will pay” the tax since “those very few large estates which don’t already structure themselves to avoid the estate tax will now do so.”

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