Joe Biden on Tax Reform

Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Reward work, not wealth: crack down on wealthy tax cheats

Let's close the loopholes that allow the very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes. Instead of cutting the number of audits of wealthy tax payers, I signed a law that will reduce the deficit by $114 billion by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats. That's being fiscally responsible.

We pay for investments in our future by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share. Under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in taxes. Nobody. Not one penny.

Let's reward work, not just wealth. Pass my proposal for a billionaire minimum tax. Because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter.

Source: 2023 State of the Union speech , Feb 7, 2023

Undo 2017 tax cut, eliminate "stepped-up basis loophole"

Biden has not proposed a wealth tax or a marked increase in the highest income tax rate. He has not yet supported a financial transaction tax targeting Wall Street highfliers. He supports undoing the 2017 Trump tax giveaway to the rich and ending the preferential tax treatment of their capital gains. He has also come out in favor of eliminating the stepped-up basis loophole, a tax code provision that allows the rich to sidestep taxes on assets that have appreciated mightily over the years.
Source: The Nation magazine on 2019 Democratic primary , Nov 19, 2019

Not mathematically possible to cut $5T in loopholes

RYAN: We raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes; we forgo about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. Deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers, so we can lower tax rates across the board.

BIDEN: You think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes? The biggest loophole they take advantage of is the carried interest loophole and capital gains loophole. They exempt that. The only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage deduction for middle-class people, cut the health care deduction for middle-class people, take away their ability to get a tax break to send their kids to college. That's why they [won't provide specifics].

Q: Is he wrong about that?

RYAN: He is wrong about that. You can cut tax rates by 20% and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers.

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It's been done before.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Tax revenue increases must be part of budget deal

Throughout the talks [on the debt ceiling], 4 documents sat alongside the 7 men: the Ryan budget proposal, Obama's budget framework, the report by the White House debt commission known as Bowles-Simpson, and the bipartisan task force plan known as Rivlin-Domenici. Obama's framework proposed to reduce the deficit by $2.5 trillion over the next decade; Bowles-Simpson by $3.8 trillion; Rivlin-Domenici by $6 trillion; and Ryan's plan by $6.2 trillion. 3 of the 4 proposals included revenue increases as part of the package. Only the Republican plan authored by Paul Ryan did not.

During the very first meeting, Biden made clear that Obama would only sign on to a deal that included revenue increases. Cantor did not object. Biden repeated publicly the stipulation that "revenues are gonna have to be in the deal," while Cantor publicly said the opposite: "Tax increases are not going to be something we're going to support in the House."

Source: Do Not Ask What Good We Do, by Robert Draper, p.230-232 , Apr 24, 2012

Middle class is U.S. economic engine and needs tax cuts

BIDEN: No one making less than $250,000 under Obama's plan will see one penny of their tax raised. And 95% percent of the people making less than $150,000 will get a tax break. John wants to add new tax cuts for corporate America and the very wealthy while giving nothing to the middle class. We have a different value set. The middle class is the economic engine. They deserve the tax breaks, not the wealthy who are doing well.

PALIN: When you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category. So they're going to be the ones paying higher taxes thus resulting in fewer jobs being created and less productivity. Patriotic is saying, government, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Joe Biden on Fair Share

Tax earnings over $400K, capital gains & estate tax

[Trump said on ABC] "if Joe Biden ever got in, I think you'd have a Depression the likes of which we have never seen in this country. If you look at his policies, where he wants to raise everybody's taxes."

FactCheck by Rocky Mengle in Kiplinger newsletter, Feb. 3, 2021: He wants to raise the highest personal income rate back up to 39.6% (it was lowered to 37% by the 2017 tax reform law), cap itemized deductions for wealthier Americans, limit "like-kind exchanges" by real estate investors, and phase-out the 20% deduction for qualified business income for upper-income taxpayers. He won't raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000, though. As a candidate, Biden's tax policy proposals also included eliminating the step-up in basis for inherited capital assets, which means more taxes on wealth passed to heirs, and ending favorable tax rates on capital gains for anyone making over $1 million. Also look for the federal estate tax exemption to be increased back to pre-tax reform levels.

Source: ABC This Week: FactCheck on 2020 Town Hall interview , Feb 3, 2021

End tax cuts for wealthy and corporations; not all tax cuts

Q: You are going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts. The Trump tax cuts reduces taxes for the majority of workers.

BIDEN: About $1.3 trillion of the $2 trillion in his cuts went to the top one-tenth of 1%. That's what I'm talking about eliminating, not all the tax cuts. You have 91 out of the Fortune 500 companies not paying a single solitary penny. If you raise the corporate tax back to 28%, which is a fair tax, you'd raise one trillion, three hundred billion dollars. If you made sure that people making over $400 grand paid what they did [under] Bush, 39.6%, you would raise another $92 billion.

TRUMP: Our corporate taxes were the highest in the world, and now they're among the lower taxes. They're not the lowest, but they're among the lowest. That means jobs. If we get in, we're going to do the middle income tax package. If [Biden] comes along and raises rates, all those companies that are coming in, they will leave the U.S. so fast your head will spin. We can't let that happen.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

Eliminate Trump tax cuts; invest in people who need help

The tax code that put [Trump] in a position that he pays less tax than on the money a school teacher makes is because of him. He says he's smart because he can take advantage of the tax code. And he does take advantage of the tax code. That's why I'm going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts. And make sure that we invest in the people who in fact need the help. People out there need help.
Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Return top rate to 39.6% from 37%; cap itemized deductions

TRUMP: If Joe Biden ever got in, I think you'd have a depression the likes of which we have never seen in this country. If you look at his policies, where he wants to raise everybody's taxes, you look at what he wants to do in terms of regulation, where he wants to put all of the regulations back on that I took off and then some--and in many cases, double it up.

[OnTheIssues fact-check: Is that true? No]: Kiplinger.com analysis (9/18/20) of Biden's tax plan: He wants to raise the highest personal income rate back up to 39.6% (it was lowered to 37% by the 2017 tax reform law), cap itemized deductions for wealthier Americans, limit "like-kind exchanges" by real estate investors, and phase-out the 20% deduction for qualified business income for upper-income taxpayers. He won't raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000, though.

Source: OnTheIssues Fact-check on ABC This Week 2020 Town Hall , Sep 15, 2020

FactCheck: tax hike on top 1%, not on all American families

Trump claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden "has pledged a $4 trillion tax hike on almost all American families."

FactCheck: "The Biden tax plan is highly progressive, increasing taxes for the top 1 percent of earners by 13 to 18 percent of after-tax income, while indirectly increasing taxes for most other groups by 0.2 to 0.6 percent," wrote the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent bipartisan nonprofit, in a recent report.

Source: CNN Fact-Check on 2020 Republican Convention speech , Aug 28, 2020

Raise taxes for anybody making over $400K, not mom & pop

Q: Is it smart to tax businesses during a recovery?

BIDEN: It's smart to tax businesses that are in fact are making excessive amounts of money and paying no taxes.

Q: Will you raise taxes on small businesses?

BIDEN: No. You have 90% of the businesses--mom and pop businesses--that employ less than 50 people. There will be no raising taxes on them. We have to provide them with the ability to reopen. We have to provide more help for them, not less help.

Q: Will you raise income taxes?

BIDEN: I will raise taxes for anybody making over $400,000. It's about time they start paying a fair share of the economic responsibility we have. The very wealthy should pay fair share, corporations should pay a fair share. The fact is, there are corporations making close to a trillion dollars that pay no tax at all. I'm not punishing anybody. This is about everybody paying their fair share.

Q: No new taxes $400,000 and down?

BIDEN: No new taxes, there would be no need.

Source: ABC This Week 2020 National Convention David Muir Q&A , Aug 23, 2020

Tax code shouldn't reward wealth more than work

[Excerpts of DNC speech]: "More mom and pop businesses will close their doors and this time for good. Working families will struggle to get by, and yet the wealthiest 1% will get tens of billions of dollars in new tax breaks," Biden warned. "We don't need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work," he warned later.
Source: Vox.com analysis of 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 21, 2020

Past time for wealthy & corporations to pay their fair share

We can pay for these investments by ending loopholes and the president's $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1 percent and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which pay no tax at all. Because we don't need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work. I'm not looking to punish anyone. Far from it. But it's long past time the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations in this country paid their fair share.
Source: Acceptance speech at 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 20, 2020

Repeal high-income excess business losses tax cut

I would finance this new student debt proposal by repealing the high-income "excess business losses" tax cut in the CARES Act. That tax cut overwhelmingly benefits the richest Americans and is unnecessary for addressing the current COVID-19 economic relief efforts.
Source: Medium.com blog on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 9, 2020

More tax breaks for Latino and black businesses

Taxes on small businesses won't go up. We're going to make sure there's more money available for small businesses in the Latino community and the black community to be able to get the capital to start businesses. We should start rewarding work, not just wealth. That's why we have to change the tax code the way it is. That's why the wealthy have to start to pay their fair share. And that's why we have to focus on giving people the ability to generate wealth.
Source: 9th Democrat 2020 primary debate, in Las Vegas Nevada , Feb 19, 2020

Millionaires pay more; middle class pays less

Q: If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? Who will pay less?

BIDEN: The middle class will pay less, and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more. Let me give you one concrete example: the continuation of the Bush tax cuts. We're arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire. $800 billion of that goes to people making a minimum of a million dollars. They're patriotic Americans; they're not asking for this continued tax cut; they're not suggesting it; but [the Republicans] are insisting on it. 120,000 families, by continuing that tax cut, will get an additional $500 billion in tax relief in the next 10 years, and their income is an average of $8 million. We want to extend permanently the middle-class tax cut. These guys won't allow us to. They're holding hostage the middle-class tax cut to the super wealthy.

RYAN: Our entire premise of these tax reform plans is to grow the economy and create jobs.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Surtax on earnings over $1 million seems fair to us

We think everybody should pay their fair share, so that's why we put a small surtax on the first dollar after a person has already made $1 million. That seems fair to us, and it pays for the bill. It's a small price to pay to put hundreds of thousands of people back to work.
Source: Weekly Address: "We Have to Increase the Pace" , Nov 5, 2011

Economic inequity worsened by tax cuts for the wealthy

Think back to the last time the nation's economy was poised for expansion in the early 2000s. Consider the choices that we made then and their ultimate consequences. Tough economic inequity already was highly elevated, yet we made it a lot worse by massive, unpaid-for tax cuts primarily for the wealthy.
Source: Remarks at Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project Forum , Apr 20, 2010

Save $150 billion in tax cuts for people who don't need them

You can put more into the government by close to $150 Billion in tax cuts going to people who don't need them, will not affect the economy, and they didn't ask for them. So you can pay for every one of these initiatives, but as my dad used to say, it's all about priorities. What are your priorities? I would change the republican priorities of rewarding only the wealthy government programs as well as dealing with a more rational policy to promote jobs.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate , Dec 13, 2007

Take away $85B in annual tax cuts for 1% of top earners

We are giving people tax breaks who don't need it. The top 1% got an $85 billion a year tax break. It is not needed. My dad used to have an expression--don't tell me what you value; show me your budget. We need more revenue to be able to pay for the things the governor and everybody else talks about. And there's only one way to do it. You either raise taxes or take tax cuts away from people who don't need them. I'd take them away from people who don't need them.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

FactCheck: Top 1% only got $67B in 2007 tax cuts, not $85B

Biden got just a little ahead of the facts when describing how much the rich benefit from Bush's tax cuts. Biden said, "The top 1% got an $85 billion a year tax break. It is not needed."

Actually, the most affluent 1% of taxpayers will get about a $67 billion tax break this year, compared with what they would have paid without the Bush tax cuts. But the total is getting bigger each year as incomes grow. The estimated breaks for the top 1% will reach $76 billion in 2008 and $95 billion in 2010.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate , Jul 23, 2007

Eliminate the tax cut just for those people in the top 1%

Imagine what we could do if we had a president who had the nerve and the wisdom to understand that rich folks are just as patriotic as poor folks--you just have to ask them. I spoke to a group of millionaires about taking away their tax cut, and when I explained how I'd use it, they gave me a standing ovation.

Imagine if we eliminate the tax cut just for those people in the top 1%. The average income in that group is $1,485,000 a year. You've got to make $435,000 minimum to get into that bracket. You know what their tax cuts are gonna cost over the next 10 years? $600 billion.

Imagine you put that tax cut into homeland security and healthcare. For $26 billion, we could provide healthcare for every one of the 9 million uninsured children in the US. For $14 billion we could fund No-Child-Left-Behind. For $10 billion we could implement every one of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC , Mar 14, 2007

Joe Biden on Voting Record

FactCheck: McCain did not vote with Obama on tax increase

Biden denied that Obama supported increasing taxes for families making $42,000 a year--but then falsely claimed that McCain had cast an identical vote. Biden said, "Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes. "

Biden was correct only to the extent that the resolution Obama supported would not by itself have increased taxes; it was a vote on a budget resolution that set revenue and spending targets. But he's wrong to say McCain voted the same way. The Obama campaign attempted to justify Biden's remark by pointing to a different vote, on a Senate amendment, that took place March 13. That vote would have preserved some of Bush's tax cuts for lower-income people. The vote on the budget resolution in question, however, came in the wee hours of March 14 and was a mostly party-line tally, 51-44, with Obama in favor and McCain not voting.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 2, 2008

Rated 15% by NTU, indicating a "Big Spender" on tax votes.

Biden scores 15% by NTU on tax-lowering policies

Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers. The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.

Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003

Rated 100% by the CTJ, indicating support of progressive taxation.

Biden scores 100% by the CTJ on taxationissues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:

About CTJ (from their website, www.ctj.org):

Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ`s mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws. Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:

Source: CTJ website 06n-CTJ on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Joe Biden on other issues:
2024 Republican Presidential Candidates:
Ryan Binkley (R-TX)
Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND)
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
Larry Elder (R-CA;withdrew)
Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC)
Rep. Will Hurd (R-FL;withdrew)
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR)
Perry Johnson (R-IL)
Mayor Steve Laffey (R-RI)
Former V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN;withdrew)
Vivek Ramaswamy (R-OH)
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Secy. Corey Stapleton (R-MT)
Mayor Francis Suarez (R-FL;withdrew)
Former Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)

2024 Democratic and 3rd-party primary candidates:
Pres. Joe Biden (D-DE)
V.P.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (I-NY)
Chase Oliver (L-GA)
Rep.Dean Phillips (D-MN)
Jill Stein (Green)
Cornel West (Green Party)
Kanye West (Birthday Party)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
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