January 13, 2015

Senators Reintroduce “Buffett Rule” Legislation

The Paying a Fair Share Act Would Require Multi-Million-Dollar Earners to Pay at Least 30% in Taxes

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led a group of 16 Senators in introducing legislation to require America’s top earners to pay a fair share in taxes.  The Paying a Fair Share Act would help ensure that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least a 30 percent effective federal tax rate, and would generate over $70 billion in revenue over ten years.  The bill is one of three “tax fairness” measures Whitehouse is introducing today, which he hopes will help shape the upcoming debate on tax reform.

Joining Whitehouse and Baldwin in introducing the bill were Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Edward Markey (D-MA). 

“Middle-class workers in Rhode Island and across the country deserve to know that all Americans, including the highest-income earners, are paying their fair share toward our nation’s success – and right now that just isn’t happening,” said Whitehouse.  “Our tax system is upside down when billionaire investors pay lower effective tax rates than janitors and truck drivers.  Our bill would restore fairness to the tax code by ensuring that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least the tax rate faced by many middle-class families.”

Senator Baldwin said, “For far too long, our tax code has unfairly favored the wealthiest Americans, while middle class families in Wisconsin have struggled to get ahead.  I’m proud to once again join Senator Whitehouse to introduce the Paying a Fair Share Act, also known as the ‘Buffett Rule.’  It is simply unfair to ask middle class Americans to pay a higher tax rate than millionaires and billionaires.  This legislation will ensure that our path forward is guided by fairness and that our tax system reflects the need to make sure everyone plays by the same rules.  If our new Republican majority truly believe in strengthening the economic security of our middle class, they’ll join us in supporting this commonsense idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will have the chance to get ahead.”

“Our economy is improving, but as long as millionaires pay less in taxes than their employees, the gap between the top one percent and everyone else will continue to grow wider,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “The Buffett Rule will ensure that the richest Americans pay their fair share and restore fairness to our tax code.”  

The legislation would apply only to taxpayers with income over $1 million – including capital gains and dividends.  Taxpayers earning over $2 million would be subject to a 30% minimum federal tax rate.  The tax would be phased in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million, with those taxpayers paying a portion of the extra tax required to get them to a 30% effective tax rate.   The bill also includes language to preserve the incentive for charitable giving.

The “Buffett Rule” is named after Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who has famously lamented that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. 


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