November 30, 2017

Whitehouse Introduces Buffett Rule Amendment to Tax Proposal

Amendment would help ensure wealthy pay fair share in taxes

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has introduced an amendment to Senate Republicans’ tax proposal that would institute the Buffett Rule to prevent America’s top earners from paying lower tax rates than middle-class families.  The amendment, based on Whitehouse’s Paying a Fair Share Act, would ensure that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least a 30 percent effective federal tax rate.  The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the legislation would provide nearly $50 billion in revenue to help cover the massive shortfall created by Republicans’ tax plan.

“Rhode Island nurses and teachers shouldn’t have to pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires,” said Whitehouse, who first introduced the Paying a Fair Share Act in 2012 and reintroduced it in April.  “This simple and clean amendment would help to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.  If Republicans really want to make our tax system work for the middle class, they’ll pass this amendment.”

In 2014, the highest-earning 400 Americans – making an average of $317 million each – paid an average effective federal tax rate of just 23 percent, far short of the top marginal rate of 40 percent.  That is lower than the effective rate paid by the average nurse or social worker in Rhode Island, according to data from the IRS and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

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.  Former President Barack Obama proposed adding the Buffett Rule to the tax code to ensure that those at the top pay at least the tax rate paid by middle-class families.

Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have cosponsored the amendment.


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