Monday, July 28, 2008

Bogus Obama E-mail Lies Corrected

Over the past few weeks an email has been going around filled with lies about Obama’s tax and economic proposals. Thanks to the Tax Policy Blog, we have a full list of these bogus claims, and the real truth about them.

Obama would tax capital gains on ALL home sales at 28 percent

Obama's plan (like McCain's) does not change the tax treatment of capital gains on owner-occupied housing (I wish it did). Obama does plan to raise the rates on long-term capital gains that are currently taxed at preferred rates.

Obama would raise the tax rate on dividends to 39.6 percent

Merely repealing the Bush tax cuts (or allowing them to expire) would raise the dividend tax rate to 39.6 percent for those in the top income bracket (about 1 percent of tax returns, though a large share of dividends). However, Obama has indicated that he would apply the same tax rate on dividends as capital gains, which he has indicated would not exceed 28 percent.

Income tax bills for typical families would increase, even double for some

As discussed earlier... Same as here. "Clinton-era" tax law assumed to be the same as Obama. But figures cited are wrong for many reasons.

Inheritance Tax under McCain = 0; Obama restored

Actually, McCain does not favor permanent repeal of the estate tax. And Obama does not want it fully restored. Obama would impose a 45 percent tax rate with $3.5 million exclusion, which is lower than pre-Bush tax cuts, yet significantly higher than 2010 scheduled law ($0).

Obama would impose new government taxes on homes that are over 2,400 square feet

This is the most outrageous claim. This appears to stem from Congressman John Dingell's proposal that would cap the mortgage interest deduction for large houses for environmental purposes. Obama has not favored such a proposal and even if he did, it would not be a new "tax" per se, just a limitation of what I would call an already bad tax provision (MID). Obama does favor a cap-and-trade system (like McCain), which is in implicit tax, but such an implicit tax would hit all homes indirectly based largely upon energy consumption.

Obama would impose new gasoline taxes

Ambiguous...Obama does favor a windfall profits tax on oil companies, which would likely raise the price of gasoline. However, he has not indicated support of raising the federal excise tax on gasoline (currently 18.4 cents).

Obama would impose new taxes on natural resource consumption (energy, natural gas, etc.)

Obama does not favor any direct tax on these products (except for windfall profits tax on oil companies). However, again, a cap-and-trade system would act as an implicit tax on these oil companies, so this is not too outlandish of a claim (compared to the rest of them). It should be pointed out though that McCain supports practically the same policy.

New taxes on retirement accounts

Obama has not said anything about a new tax on retirement accounts, unless one wants to argue that indirectly, he would affect the return on retirement accounts through his individual and corporate tax policies and dividend/capital gains policies. In fact, when it comes to direct taxes on retirement, Obama has proposed exempting seniors (those who most likely claim retirement income) who make under $50,000 from an income tax.

New taxes to pay for socialized medicine

Obama does have a universal health care plan that one could label socialist to some extent, although our current system has a large degree of implicit government payments through the exclusion of employer-provided health insurance. However, Obama has not said new taxes would pay specifically for that socialized medicine although he does favor some new taxes (higher income taxes on upper-incomes, higher payroll taxes on upper-income workers and a windfall profits tax). Such a claim is not possible to verify or refute due to the fact that all government money is basically fungible.”

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