What You Need to Know
- The American Families Plan includes an expanded child tax credit and funds for programs like universal preschool, tuition-free community college and paid family leave.
- Biden would raise taxes on income and capital gains for top earners and end the carried interest tax break.
- The plan doesn't mention an estate tax increase or an expansion of the SALT deduction.
President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday unveiled a $1.8 trillion, 10-year plan to ramp up federal support for American families, with a major expansion in spending on child care, paid leave and education.
The “American Families Plan,” which Biden will tout in a joint address to Congress Wednesday night, is funded in part by $1.5 trillion of tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. The proposals still face major changes in Congress, with Republicans set against higher taxes and Democrats having their own priorities.
Ambitious as it is, Biden’s program omits some of his campaign-trail agenda items and lacks any move to address a cap on state and local tax deductions that Democrats from high-tax states want removed. Following are key elements to the plan:
Biden is calling to raise the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% for those among the highest 1% of earners. “No one making $400,000 per year or less will see their taxes go up,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the plan. Still, the document didn’t specify whether that threshold applies to both single earners as well as married couples.
Biden would increase the capital gains rate to 39.6% from 20% for those earning $1 million or more — 0.3% of taxpayers or roughly half a million households — equalizing that rate with the top marginal income tax rate. A 3.8% Obamacare tax on investment would then be added on top, meaning the richest would pay a 43.4% federal rate on realized investment returns. State taxes could put the combined tax bill north of 50%.
The plan would also end a long-standing capital gains tax break on inheritances known as “step-up in basis,” which allows heirs to use the market value of assets at the time of inheritance rather than the actual purchase price as the cost basis for capital gains when the holdings are sold.
The proposal exempts the first $1 million of gains from the end of stepped-up basis, while there’s no tax if the gains are used for charitable donations. There will also be “protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”
Carried Interest, Real Estate
The carried interest tax break used by private equity and hedge fund managers to lower their tax bills would be eliminated under Biden’s plan. In what critics call a loophole, that allowed for a share of income being classed as a capital gain, with an associated lower tax rate.
The administration also would eliminate a real estate tax break for when property investors sell one holding for a more expensive one.
The plan calls for increased audits on high-earners that could collect an additional $700 billion in tax revenue, with funding increases for the Internal Revenue Service. Biden is also proposing to require banks to report information on account flows, so that earnings from investments and business profits are reported to the IRS like wages are.
Child Tax Credit
Biden is proposing to extend through 2025 an enhanced version of the child tax credit. The credit, increased for 2021 in the March pandemic-relief package, provides a $3,600 credit for children under six and $3,000 for those six and older. The IRS is slated to send the payments regularly, which amounts to $250 or $300 per child per month, depending on their age. Congressional Democrats are pushing Biden to make this change permanent.