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September 18, 2020

What to expect in Washington (September 18)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign released a document September 17 contrasting his tax proposals with the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act and President Trump's calling for a 15% capital gains rate. The document states Biden's commitment to requiring "corporations and the wealthiest Americans to finally pay their fair share;" to not asking "a single person making under $400,000 per year to pay a penny more in taxes;" and to enacting more than a dozen middle class tax cuts. The document also calls for emergency tax relief to middle class families as part of a new COVID-19 response package, and proposes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansions of the House-passed HEROES Act — increasing the CTC to $3,000 per child for children ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 for children under 6 and making the CTC fully refundable. Other proposed tax credits listed in the document include those for health care, childcare, elder care and first-time homebuyers.

Tax increases listed include the previously released proposals for:

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28%
  • Requiring a "true minimum tax on ALL foreign earnings of US companies located overseas so that we do our part to put an end to the global race to the bottom that rewards global tax havens" that will be at 21%, "TWICE the rate of the Trump offshoring tax rate," and will apply to all income
  • Imposing a tax penalty on corporations that ship jobs overseas in order to sell products back to America
  • Imposing a 15% minimum tax on book income so that no corporation gets away with paying no taxes
  • Raising the top individual income rate back to 39.6%
  • Asking those making more than $1 million to pay the same rate on investment income that they do on their wages

The document also calls for "equalizing the tax benefits of retirement plans" across the income scale, "so working families also receive substantial tax benefits when they put money away for retirement."

Biden participated in a CNN town hall September 17 and said of his tax plans, "As president of the United States, I'll have one of the largest fleets. We spend $600 billion a year, federal money, for federal contracts. I'm going to make sure that all those contracts are all products made in America, including the chain that provides for every one of those products. I'm going to do away with the tax break that the president gave people who send jobs abroad. To make sure that if you in fact have a contract, with taxpayers' money, you must use American products, you must buy American products, and you must not be in a position where you're exporting." He said President Trump's policies are "giving a tax break to companies that, in fact, go overseas and then import the product back into the United States of America, even though their headquarters is here. … We have been talking about this policy for 100 years. We have never fully done it. We can and must do it now."

A Washington Post op-ed said Biden's "grab-bag approach to tax policy, tossing out a dozen different proposals that are perfectly worthy but might fall away as the complex machine of legislation grinds its gears" is a missed opportunity, and that the campaign is understandably taking pains to push back against Republican suggestions that taxes will increase for everyone. It said the proposal to tax investment income at the same rate as wage income for those making over $1 million a year is "buried in the grab bag, when it should be the centerpiece of Biden's tax agenda. And it should apply to everyone, not just the super-rich."

Both President Trump and Joe Biden make campaign stops in Minnesota today. Biden led 57-41 in a recent ABC poll.

Coronavirus relief

Members of Congress left Washington after another week of no measurable progress toward a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill despite calls from rank-and-file Democrats for a deal and suggestions by President Trump that Republicans embrace higher relief amounts. Politico reported that the lack of movement toward a deal cast "further doubt that Congress can muster the political will to adopt another massive economic stimulus measure before the November election," and cited Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) as saying he thinks "not much is going to happen between now and the election."

The Washington Post said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), "Now the California Democrat faces a crucial decision: Does she try to negotiate an agreement with a White House that suddenly seems ready to deal or continue to hold her ground and make Trump, facing his own election woes, swallow the sweeping $2.2 trillion bill she has long demanded?" Democrats insist on $2.2 trillion, compared to the $1.5 trillion backed by the President. "Call me when he's at $2.2 trillion," Pelosi is said to have told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a Wednesday call.

In a CNN op-ed, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat leading a presidential battleground state, called for action on additional relief, saying, "The president should work with Congress on a stimulus bill that includes $500 billion in flexible aid to states so they can continue their pandemic response efforts and avoid drastic cuts to services that will only worsen the economic slowdown and prolong the recovery."


The House is expected to take up a continuing resolution (CR) early next week to extend government funding beyond September 30, and the Wall Street Journal reported that a measure extending funding into mid-December could be introduced today (September 18). "Democrats had hoped to extend its duration into 2021, but didn't intend to derail talks over its end date, aides said," according to the report.

The New York Times tied President Trump's standing in battleground states to the fortunes of Senate candidates, saying Biden leads Trump "by wide margins in Arizona, where he was ahead by nine percentage points, and Maine, where he led by 17 points," while the North Carolina race is effectively tied. "In all three states, Democratic Senate candidates were leading Republican incumbents by five percentage points or more," the report said.

CNN reported on Republican senators evading opportunities to comment on the President's actions and remarks.

The House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Restaurants in America During the COVID-19 Pandemic" on Friday, September 25, at 9:00 A.M.

State tax

The New York Times reported, "New Jersey officials agreed on Thursday to make the state one of the first to adopt a so-called millionaires tax to alleviate shortfalls caused by the pandemic, intensifying a national debate over whether to increase taxes on the rich to help address widening income gaps."


In a Washington Post op-ed, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) advocated their bill, the Suppress COVID-19 Act (S. 4458), that would invest in the testing and contact tracing "needed not merely to contain the virus but also to suppress it," saying the arrival of a vaccine "would not change the need for testing over the coming year."


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Ray Beeman (
   • Gary Gasper (
   • Heather Meade (
   • Kurt Ritterpusch (