As part of his new economic outline — The Pension and Family Security Plan — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has proposed cutting the tax rate on long term capital gains and dividends to 7.5 percent in 2009 and 2010. The current tax rate for these capital gains is 15 percent.
Today, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) released an analysis showing who would benefit from this cut. Like the rest of McCain’s tax cuts, this one overwhelmingly aids the wealthy, with two-thirds of the benefit going to those making over $1 million:
In 2009, under a plan that lowers taxes on both gains and dividends, those making $1 million or more would get two-thirds of the benefit, and an average tax cut of more than $72,000. Those making less than $50,000 would get, on average, nothing.
As the TPC pointed out, “75% of the benefit of low taxes on capital gains and dividends already go to those making $600,000 or more. Half goes to those making $2.8 million or more.”
In fact, as the Wonk Room noted when McCain first toyed with including this provision in his economic plan, under the current 15 percent rate, 93.9 percent of the benefits go to the top 5 percent of taxpayers, and 84.8 percent to the top 1 percent. The other 80 percent of taxpayers see only 1.7 percent of the benefits of today’s rate.
The McCain campaign claims that the cut will “strengthen incentives to save, invest, and restore the liquidity of markets.” But given the current economic situation — one in which “people do not have an awful lot of capital gains” — this measure will do nothing to stimulate the economy.
Furthermore, The Street noted that McCain’s cut “might have unintended consequences,” like encouraging investors “to make one-time sales to capture lower capital gains and increased tax write-offs,” which “would facilitate capital flight.”