Sen. Marco Rubio’s plan to cut tax rates for businesses and individuals and expand credits for families would cost the federal government at least $6.8 trillion over a decade according to a new analysis.
It would still cost less than a plan released by the Florida senator’s rival in the presidential race, businessman Donald Trump.
Rubio’s proposal would deliver tax cuts to individuals at all income levels but top earners and businesses would receive some of the greatest benefits under the plan, according to an analysis released Thursday by the non-partisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Analysts said the plan could cost as much as $8.2 trillion after adding the cost of interest paid on debt created by the revenue losses.
A similar analysis of Trump’s plan released in December found that the real estate mogul’s proposals would cost about $9.5 trillion over the same time frame.
Rubio’s tax plan also includes a consumption tax proposal that analysts say is not entirely different from the European-style system proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and attacked by Rubio.
Analysts said Rubio’s plan to replace the corporate income tax with a 25 percent top-tax on cash flow is a different version of the same consumption tax concept that Cruz has championed.
“Combined with the provisions of the individual income tax that eliminate taxation of most interest, dividends, and capital gains, Rubio’s plan replaces the current income tax system with a consumption tax,” the report said.
Rubio attacked Cruz over his use of a consumption tax during a debate last month sponsored by Fox News.
“Businesses now will have to pay a tax, both on the money they make, but they also have to pay taxes on the money that they pay their employees,” Rubio said. “And that’s why they have it in Europe, because it is a way to [blindfold] the people, that’s what Ronald Reagan said.”
The issue has become a central part of Rubio’s criticism of Cruz’s economic proposals in the weeks since the debate.
Rubio’s plan would cut the top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 35 percent and eliminate a surtax on the wealthy that was instituted by Obamcare. His would also eliminate the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and the marriage penalty. Rubio would replace the current standard deduction with a $2,000 refundable credit for individuals and a $4,000 refundable credit for married couples that would phase out for higher-income workers.
Rubio’s family-focused plan would also add a new partially refundable child tax credit of $2,500 that would be added on top of the current credit. The charitable tax credit and a modified mortgage interest deduction would be available to all taxpayers.
The report found that while taxpayers at every level would see some tax cuts, top earners would receive the greatest reductions in their tax bill.
“Overall, the plan would cut taxes in 2017 by an average of about $3,150, boosting after-tax income by 4.4 percent,” the report said. “However, the highest-income taxpayers (0.1 percent of the population, or those with incomes over $3.7 million in 2015 dollars) would experience an average tax cut of more than $900,000, 13.6 percent of after-tax income.”
Analysts said the Rubio proposal has several elements that would make tax filing simpler for some. But overall, they projected the revenue losses would make it very difficult to implement.
“If the numbers added up this would be a radically and interesting plan worth taking seriously,” said Tax Policy Center director Len Burman.
Rubio would also cut the top business tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, including small businesses that currently pay the top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent. Analysts said including small businesses in the overall business rate would create “a strong incentive” for workers to become independent contractors in order to pay the lower rate.
Burman and Tax Policy Center senior fellow Roberton Williams said they were forced to make several assumptions about how the Rubio plan would be administered because of a lack of information provided by the Rubio campaign.
“The campaign did not ultimately respond to our specific questions, but it did send a set of questions about how TPC conducts its analysis,” the report said.