Wyden eyes taxes on billionaires, executive pay to fund spending plans

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The Senate’s top tax writer is proposing new taxes on executive compensation, stock buybacks and plastics to help pay for Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar social spending plan.

Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is also suggesting the creation of a new levy on billionaires, raising the estate tax and cracking down on tax breaks for so-called conservation easements. Altogether, his panel is considering more than a dozen and a half possible tax increases.

The list amounts to a menu of options from which his fellow Democrats could choose rather than a road map of where they are headed. Senate Democrats are still in the early stages of deciding how to raise taxes and haven’t even settled on how much revenue they need.

Democrats are still at odds over how big their spending plan should be and how much of it needs to be paid for. What’s more, the entire roster of tax increases under consideration would probably raise far more money than they need, especially after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) underscored on Thursday that he will not support spending anywhere near the $3.5 trillion that the Democrats’ budget allows.

The House Ways and Means Committee is developing its own roster of tax hikes.

Many of the proposals Wyden is considering are not surprising: raising the corporate rate; increasing the top marginal income tax rate; lifting the tax on capital gains to match the rate on income for high earners.

Some would expand on tax increases Democrats quietly approved earlier this year as part of their coronavirus stimulus package, such as a proposal to extend a temporary rule making it harder for people who own unincorporated businesses to use losses to offset other types of income, thereby reducing their tax bills.

Others are new, including a proposal to impose an excise tax on corporations when CEO pay outstrips their average workers’ pay by an unspecified ratio and another proposal to impose a 20-cent tax on the sale of “virgin” plastic used to make single-use plastics.

A Wyden spokesperson declined to comment.

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