Key House Democrat skeptical of billionaire tax, calls it ‘challenging’ to implement

Massachusetts Democrat says House tax-hike bill ‘looks better every day’

A top House Democrat threw doubt on a new Senate plan to tax the unrealized capital gains of billionaires and other ultrahigh earners, arguing the proposal may be too complicated to implement. 

The proposal, which Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is slated to unveil later this week, would set the so-called billionaires’ income tax at $1 billion income, or three consecutive years of $100 million or more in income. Democrats hope to generate at least $200 billion in new revenue over the next decade from the tax, which would include stocks as well as other assets like real estate, bonds and art. Individuals could claim deductions for annual losses in the value of their assets.

But Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said Monday that he told Wyden during a discussion that the administration of the senator’s proposed billionaire’s tax is “a bit more challenging.”

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Neal, D-Mass., suggested the House’s tax-increase bill – which reversed the bulk of Republicans’ 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – was more straightforward and easier to adopt. 

Under that measure, the top individual income tax rate would rise to 39.6% from 37% for married couples who report taxable income of more than $450,000 and for individuals who report more than $400,000. The corporate tax rate would increase to 26.5% from 21% for businesses earning more than $5 million in income. The bill also included a 3% surcharge on individual income above 5% and increased the top tax rate for capital gains – the proceeds from selling an asset – to 25%, up from 20%.

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