- - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Death and taxes are part of life, but the Grim Reaper only visits once. The tax man — or the tax woman if Hillary makes it to the White House — visits often. Nobody would mistake Hillary for the Mona Lisa, but she sometimes smiles as if she knows something the voters don’t. With her bag of taxes and fees, there’s an unwelcome surprise for everyone.

The Democratic nominee has a long list of levees she would impose on Americans that would add up to an extra $1 trillion or so over a decade, according to Americans for Tax Reform. That’s a lot for someone who pledges not to raise taxes on the middle class. Tops among her proposals is a “Fairness Tax,” which sounds like a catch-all plan for ensuring that everyone receives his fair share of pain. It would tax carried-over interest on capital gains as ordinary income, and impose a heavier death tax. All told, it would cost Americans between $400 billion and $500 billion. Some fairness.

Another $350 billion income tax increase that would come from a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions. Those deductions are lifesavers for growing families trying to whittle down their obligations to the government to something manageable, while enabling them to put something aside for the kids’ college. As Obamacare premiums soar — up an average of 8 percent in 2016 and expected to climb another 11 percent in 2017 — full deductibility is no longer a given.

Mrs. Clinton wants to increase various business taxes by $275 billion. These include an increase in the capital gains tax, a tax on stock trades, and an “exit tax” to discourage corporations from fleeing to another country to avoid ruinous taxes here. Combined U.S. federal and state business taxes are already the world’s highest, at 39 percent. Even President Obama says they’re too high. Though this Hillary exit tax might intimidate some businesses into staying here, others in Lower Slobbovia or Mango City might think twice or three times before coming to America to start a business.

Clinton adviser Neera Tanden scoffs that Hillary would never want to cut the corporate tax rate: “The United States have been doing pretty well when it comes to competitiveness.” But a second-quarter gross domestic product of 1.2 percent is more evidence that the current recovery is the weakest since 1949, not an indication of economic “competitiveness.”

Donald Trump argues that America isn’t suffering from too few taxes, but too much spending. He proposes a cornucopia of federal tax cuts. Individual taxpayers would pay a maximum of 25 percent on income, and businesses would pay 15 percent or less. Dividends and capital gains would be taxed at 20 percent, and the death tax would, well, die. Such a release of the brakes on the U.S. economy would increase personal incomes, stimulate investment and create millions of jobs, says the Tax Policy Center, and only industriousness would determine whether the Trump schemes would be revenue-neutral.

Dread of the woman in a pantsuit dissolved for the moment beneath the cheers and red, white and blue balloons at the Democratic convention, but if eight years of a hobbled economy are disappointment enough, voters should think long and hard about replacing him with someone who promises to be just like him.

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