Former Tax Lawyer Michele Bachman’s Tax Plan

Former Tax Lawyer Michele Bachman’s Tax Plan

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Howard Gleckman of TaxVox says that Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s tax plan would be a boon to millionaires:

In a revealing interview with Steve Moore of The Wall Street Journal, Representative Michele Bachmann(R-MN) called for repealing taxes on capital gains. She also said she strongly believes that everyone should pay some income tax.

This got me wondering: What would happen to the number of non-payers if the GOP presidential hopeful got her wish and Congress did abolish taxes on gains. My Tax Policy Center colleague Dan Baneman ran the numbers: Such a step would remove 23,000 millionaires from the income tax rolls, and cut their annual tax liability by an average of a half-a-million dollars. If all investment income (including interest, dividends, and gains) were made tax free—an idea backed by Tim Pawlenty, another GOP presidential aspirant– 57,000 households making $1 million or more would avoid paying any income tax, about 50,000 more than today.

Btw, this largess would add about $25 billion to the deficit in one year (eliminating taxes on gains only would reduce tax liability by roughly $11 billion for those $1 million-plus households who no longer paid income tax).

I readily admit these numbers are entirely misleading. In fact, they understate the benefits to the very wealthy because they include only those who would drop off the tax rolls entirely.

More than 200,000 households that make $1 million or more would enjoy a significant cut in their tax liability if the levy on gains were repealed. But they’d still be paying some income taxes. Dan estimates they’d  get an average tax cut of almost $100,000 (half would get a cut averaging about $200,000 while one-third would pay an average of $2,500 more).     

But for now, just look at this through Bachmann’s prism: When it comes to the income tax, she told Moore, “I think everybody should have to pay something.”

Fair enough. But how does that square with a plan that would eliminate tax liability for tens of thousands of those with the highest incomes?


Bachmann (who was once an IRS tax lawyer) holds bold and unyielding political views. But in this case, those ideas are strikingly at odds with one another.

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida

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