Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced his “Paying a Fair Share” tax reform bill in the Senate today. From his floor statement:
The structure of our bill is simple: if your total income—capital gains included—is over $ 1 million, you calculate your taxes under the regular system. If your effective rate turns out to be greater than 30%, you pay that rate—the same rate you would pay without the bill. If, on the other hand, your effective tax rate is under 30%—like Warren Buffett’s 11%—you would pay the Fair Share Tax. [...]
This bill would simplify taxes; discourage exotic tax dodges; reduce the deficit; and bring fairness and common sense to our tax system. There are lots of advantages that come with an enormous income, and that’s great because America thrives on capitalism and we all love success; but paying a lower tax rate than regular working families should not be one of those advantages.
Whitehouse has six Democratic cosponsors: Sens. Daniel Akaka, Mark Begich, Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin, Richard Blumenthal and Bernie Sanders.
Whitehouse has made one change from his original proposal, now including a provision that phases the rule in for earners making between $ 1 and 2 million, who would pay a portion of the extra tax required to get them to a 30 percent effective tax rate. Those over $ 2 million would pay a minimum 30 percent rate.
Easy, fair and requiring no fiddling with the current tax structure. The White House supports the bill, though it would still like to see more comprehensive tax reform. The advantage of this bill, though, is that it doesn’t require comprehensive tax reform. It’s a simple, straightforward fix.
It’s also almost certain to be filibustered by Senate Republicans, which makes it smart politics. Which is why this bill should get votes on the Senate floor early and often, as a stand-alone bill and as part of other packages. Republicans should be forced to vote to protect millionaires and billionaires as frequently as possible.