Presidential candidates’ positions on various tax issues

Historically, the president guides U.S. tax policy. This next presidential election may also lead to reformation of the entire Internal Revenue Code. However, specifics of tax policy are rarely addressed during the campaign and debates. In order to help you sort out the Democratic and Republican candidates’ current positions on various tax issues, we’ve used their official websites and speeches over the last few months, as well as analysis made by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and other nonpartisan sources, to compile the candidates’ positions on some specific tax issues pertaining to businesses, international interests and individuals.

These positions are summarized as of mid-August and the candidates’ positions may evolve over the course of the election.

Business tax issues





The maximum corporate rate is currently 35%

No specific proposal on corporate rates; Clinton has called for unspecified measures to broaden the corporate tax base in order to lower rates to be more competitive in a global economy

Reduce the corporate rate to 15%

Small businesses

Add a 4% surtax on income over $5 million; raise rates on medium-term capital gains (held for less than six years) to between 24% and 39.6%

A new business income tax rate within the individual rate structure that matches the 15% corporate rate


Double the current section 179 expense to $1 million

Increase start-up expense deduction to $20,000 from $5,000

Businesses with under $25 million in gross receipts eligible to use the cash method of accounting

Reduce or eliminate some corporate loopholes that cater to special interests (no specifics) as well as deductions made unnecessary by the new lower rate on businesses

Allow businesses to immediately expense investment costs






Impose exit tax on unrepatriated earnings of U.S. firms going through inversions

A one-time deemed repatriation of “corporate cash held overseas at a discounted 10% rate”

End deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad


Provide support for companies that move jobs and production to the U.S. from abroad

Campaign materials do not specifically discuss insourcing

Individual tax issues





Current rate brackets range from 10% to 39.6%

A 4% “Fair Share Surcharge” on income over $5 million per year

Cap benefit of itemized deductions at 28% of the deduction

Propose three individual rates: 12, 25 and 33%

Phase out all deductions except for charitable contributions and mortgage interest

Capital gains/dividends

Currently, qualified capital gains and dividends are taxed at 0% for those in the 10% and 15% brackets, 15% for taxpayer in the middle brackets and 20% for those in the 39.6% bracket

Raise capital gains rates for short-term trading in order to encourage long-term investment

Explore measures to prevent high-income taxpayers from misclassifying income as capital gains

Campaign materials do not describe any specific changes

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)

No specific proposal in regard to AMT; has endorsed the “Buffett rule”

Eliminate the AMT

Estate tax

Currently, the maximum rate is 40% with an inflation-adjusted $5 million exclusion ($5.45 million in 2016)

Restore the estate tax to rates in effect in 2009 (a maximum rate of 45% with a $3.5 million exclusion)

Repeal the federal estate tax

Carried interests

Tax carried interest at ordinary income tax rates

Tax carried interest at ordinary income tax rates

The information provided here is of a general nature and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any individual or entity. In specific circumstances, the services of a professional should be sought. Tax information, if any, contained in this communication was not intended or written to be used by any person for the purpose of avoiding penalties, nor should such information be construed as an opinion upon which any person may rely.  The intended recipients of this communication and any attachments are not subject to any limitation on the disclosure of the tax treatment or tax structure of any transaction or matter that is the subject of this communication and any attachments.