We retired Tax Justice Blog in April 2017. For new content on issues related to tax justice, go to www.justtaxesblog.org
Senator and now presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has one of the strongest records of any elected official when it comes to standing up for tax fairness. In many cases, Sen. Sanders has been the lone voice in the Senate fighting for legislation that would ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
For example, Sen. Sanders is a long-time champion of legislation that would end offshore tax avoidance by no longer allowing multinational corporations to “defer” (forever) paying taxes on their foreign income. While some other proposals would narrow offshore loopholes, ending deferral would totally eliminate the incentive for companies to shift profits to tax havens because it would require them to pay taxes on these profits regardless of where they are held.
Adding to this, Sen. Sanders has introduced legislation that would return the estate tax exemption levels to the more robust 2009 levels ($3.5 million for individuals). This increase in the estate tax would still mean that only the top 0.3 percent of all estates (as opposed to the just the top 0.1 percent as is the case now) would owe anything in estate taxes.
Looking back, Sen. Sanders has repeatedly fought against regressive tax cuts. During his time in the House of Representatives, he received a perfect score on the Citizens for Tax Justice “Congressional Tax Report Card” for his repeated votes against the Bush-era tax cut bills, including the 2004 bill that included a repatriation tax holiday for multinational corporations, a bill that many Democrats, like then-Senator Hillary Clinton, voted for. In 2010, Sen. Sanders spoke for nearly nine hours straight in the Senate chamber to make the case against extending the temporary Bush tax cuts.
Looking forward, Sen. Sanders’ early campaign materials indicate that tax fairness will be a major part of his presidential campaign. Sen. Sanders laments that many “major profitable corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes” and that “corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries.” With any luck, the addition of Sen. Sanders to the presidential race will serve to bring much needed attention to the egregious inequities in our tax system as well as to his many sensible proposals to correct these same inequities.