Maryland’s U.S. senators said changes should be made to the federal tax code so that wealthy Americans are not able to avoid paying their fair share of income taxes.
However, the lawmakers stopped short of calling for a wealth tax, as some progressives have proposed.
The comments by Democrats Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin were in response to a ProPublica report that was published last week. The report relayed how billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffet were able to pay little or no federal income taxes during certain years by making use of various legal loopholes in the Internal Revenue Code. The report was based on more than 15 years worth of confidential tax records that were obtained by the nonprofit news organization.
“It has long been clear that the wealthiest of the wealthy are not paying their fair share while everyday Americans shoulder the burden. That’s why I support closing a variety of tax loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to avoid income taxes,” Van Hollen told MarylandReporter.com in a statement. “It’s time we fix our broken tax system to ensure everyday Americans aren’t paying a greater share of their income in taxes than the rich, and we should invest in policies that will grow prosperity and opportunity for working families across our nation.”
Cardin sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation. He told MarylandReporter.com in a statement that the “tax system must be made more fair for working families and small businesses.”
Cardin said he supports “reforming the tax code to make sure people and businesses pay their fair share,” and that the “ultra-rich should not pay substantially less taxes as a percentage of their income than most working Americans.”
Cardin emphasized that compromise is the key to coming up with a viable proposal.
“Finding a fair path for reform that can pass both the Senate and House is essential.”
But Democrats would likely have to pass such a proposal without any Republican support, which is a daunting task given that the party only has a majority in the Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris and Harris can only cast a vote in the event of tie.
A spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, an influential Republican from Pennsylvania who sits on the Finance Committee with Cardin, told MarylandReporter.com that Toomey strongly disagrees with ProPublica’s (supposed) endorsement of expanding taxation to include “unrealized appreciated assets.”
“The ProPublica report advocates that the United States tax unrealized, appreciated assets as if they are income. Senator Toomey does not support this radical left-wing idea that the United States has never adopted (even some European countries that have experimented with this type of tax have abandoned it). Taxing unrealized appreciated assets, in principal, is unfair, unmanageable, and would have a chilling effect on investment and economic growth. The real story here is the criminal disclosure of private taxpayer information.”
In the ProPublica report, the publication declined to disclose how it obtained the tax records. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating who gave the nonprofit publication the private tax records.
President Joe Biden’s income tax plan calls for raising the top marginal rate on Americans who make more than $400,000 a year from 37% to 39.6%. It also calls for both doubling the tax on capital gains and for the first time taxing unrealized capital gains at the time of the owner’s death. His tax plan is currently stalled in the Senate.