[IMGCAP(1)]A number of presidential candidates have proposed their tax policies, several of which were fleshed out by Republican candidates during Wednesday night’s debate.
Among others, there’s Marco Rubio’s tax plan which he coauthored with Senator Mike Lee, Jeb Bush’s Reform and Growth Act, Ben Carson’s flat tax based on the Biblical tithe, Ted Cruz’s Simple Flat Tax, and Donald Trump’s Tax Reform That Will Make America Great Again.
Of course, not every campaign position or promise sees the light of day once the election is over, but the various positions are valuable in discerning which direction future legislative proposals will take. There’s plenty of time left in the campaign to flesh out the details of all the candidates’ plans. Based on this week’s debate, Tom Wheelwright, CPA, founder and chief executive of the accounting firm ProVision, says to look for similarities rather than differences.
“There are some things to look at whenever you examine the various proposals. First, what do they have in common, because that is what is most likely to happen. Clearly, it looks like the carried interest rule is going to die, at least with respect to Wall Street,” he predicted. “The Democrats don’t like it, and half the Republicans also want to get rid of it.”
“It originally was meant for real estate,” he added. “If you did something for a company and instead of getting paid you got an interest in the company but only if certain things happened, the tax law takes the position that you received nothing so there is no taxable income. You’re getting paid not in future profit but in gain on the sale of the company, in the future, which is why it’s called ‘carried.’”
“Hedge fund managers are good at taking something that’s not meant for them and making it work for them,” he said. “In a typical real estate deal the developer would go in and pay profits to the investors. Once the investors got their money back, the developer would start taking a bigger share of carried interest. When the property is sold there’s capital gain to the developers.”
Another tax issue the candidates share positions on is in the corporate and international area, Wheelwright said. “Everybody is talking about reducing the corporate tax rate, and having overseas profits repatriated to the U.S. The Republicans would remove the incentives to shift income overseas and reward corporations for repatriating it,” he said.
“Several of the candidates have a ‘deemed repatriation,’ which would tax overseas income whether it’s brought back into the U.S. or not, but at a lower rate. That should tell people that it is likely to happen. From a tax adviser standpoint, we ought to do something before 2017 regarding these two issues—carried interest and foreign income. “
“There will likely be a grandfather rule on carried interest, that after a certain date carried interest will be ordinary income,” Wheelwright added. “We don’t know if that’s going to affect carried interest that already exists, or if it will only kick in after the effective date. If you have the chance to generate carried interest, it’s better to do it now.”
“Regarding foreign income, if it’s not deferred it will be taxed at 35 percent, whereas if it’s deferred, it will be taxed under the proposals at 6 to 10 percent,” he said. “If a corporation defers the income now, at least it will have a couple of years where the income is taxed at a much lower rate.”
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