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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Here's how Obama's budget would hike taxes and fees by at least $1.2 trillion

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Philip Klein,Taxes,Budgets and Deficits

President Obama would increase taxes and fees by at least $1.2 trillion as part of a budget proposal released Tuesday that would bring revenue to a record level by the end of the coming decade.

Below, I’ve included a breakdown of Obama’s more costly proposed tax increases. The revenue estimates come from the White House Office and Management and Budget.

Over the fiscal year 2015 to 2024 period, Obama's budget:

• Raises $598 billion by limiting the amount of itemized deductions that can be claimed by higher-income Americans, such as for donations to charity or mortgage interest.

• Claims $150 billion in revenue from transitioning to a reformed corporate tax code. (The budget does not use additional revenue from other tax increases on businesses that are outlined as part of a proposed corporate tax reform).

• Hikes taxes on gifts and estates by $131 billion.

• Hikes tobacco taxes by $78 billion.

• Imposes a $56 billion “financial crisis responsibility fee” on the financial industry.

• Raises $53 billion by dusting off the “Buffett Rule,” named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, which would require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes by effectively raising taxes on money earned through investments.

• Increases self-employment taxes by $38 billion.

• Raises $28 billion by taxing retirement savings once individuals have accrued savings of over $3 million.

• Reinstates Superfund taxes, raising $23 billion.

• Raises $15 billion by reinstating an unemployment insurance surtax on employers. The tax was supposed to be temporary when it was created in 1976, but persisted for decades until it was finally allowed to expire in 2011.

• Raises $14 billion by taxing requiring investment firm managers to pay taxes on their share of the firms’ gains as if the money were regular income (as opposed to capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate).

• Increases fees on airline security by $5.4 billion, on top of the increase in a December 2013 budget deal.

• Includes smaller increases in taxes, fees and surcharges totaling at least $40 billion.

These all add up to over $1.2 trillion. But pinning down an exact number for tax increases is difficult because, as Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform has detailed, there are a lot of moving parts in the budget and the administration's presentation of its tax proposals is messy and opaque.

The proposal also includes various changes to mandatory spending programs that have implications for revenue; assumes more revenue by strengthening tax compliance; and it estimates another $456 billion of revenue from enacting immigration reform on the assumption that newly legalized immigrants would be paying more taxes.

In addition, the proposal expands the earned income tax credit, which goes to low-income working Americans. Because the credit can either reduce the tax liability of individuals or represent a payment that exceeds any taxes owed, it's partially seen as a tax cut and partially as a spending increase. The OMB estimated that Obama's proposed EITC change would add $60 billion to deficits.

Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee have concluded that the overall tax increase in the proposal is $1.76 trillion, an estimate that counts the new tax revenue from immigration reform.

Judging by another measure, OMB sees revenue at $3.15 trillion higher over next decade than what the Congressional Budget Office projected. The Obama administration has a more optimistic economic outlook than the CBO over the next decade, which helps account for the additional discrepancy.

By 2024, according to OMB, Obama's budget would bring revenue as a percentage of the economy to 19.9 percent, which would tie the record set in 2000.

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