Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders holds hearing on “rigged” tax code – preview of infrastructure offsets?

Josh Caron
Finseca VP Legislative Affairs

The Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), convened a hearing on March 25th to hear from witnesses concerning the “rigged tax code and making the wealthiest people and largest corporations pay their fair share of taxes”. Speaking at the hearing were Abigail Disney (Level Forward), Gabriel Zucman (University of California, Berkley), Amy Hanauer (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy), Maya MacGuineas (Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget), and Scott Hodge (Tax Foundation).

While many of the themes discussed at the hearing have been visited before – the Chairman and Democrats leveling charges that the tax code disproportionally favors corporations and the wealthy, while Republicans argued that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a necessary set of reforms that made the United States competitive in the global economy, the hearing spent a significant time on two topics likely to form the backbone of tax increases on the wealthy in the upcoming human infrastructure package – estate tax reform and repealing step up in basis while taxing capital gains at death.

Senator Sanders went into detail on his newly reintroduced For the 99.5% Act, a series of progressive estate tax reforms that include the creation of a billionaires bracket (to read the Chairman’s Press Release, click here).

In addition, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) teased his reintroduction of legislation, the Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, that would tax capital gains at death while repealing step up in basis (to read the Senator’s Press Release, click here).

Both of these proposals have been made before but with unified control of government by Democrats they have increasingly become seen as likely to be included, if not in the exact fashion introduced by the two Senators, in the set of individual tax reforms on wealthy individuals.

Committee Hearing Video – https://www.budget.senate.gov/hearings/ending-a-rigged-tax-code-the-need-to-make-the-wealthiest-people-and-largest-corporations-pay-their-fair-share-of-taxes