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Issues Cheat Sheet: Where Do They Stand on Taxes?

I love breaking down political personality and pageantry as much as the next person, but I still have hope that some voters care about the issues. Since we considered the possibility of a candidate's death recently, let's take a look at another inevitable — taxes.

Here are some crucial distinctions between McCain and Obama that might help you figure out which tax plan you like better. Keep in mind: neither of these plans (dreams?) would avoid a deficit.

  • Bush Tax Cuts: McCain wants to make the 2001 and 2003 cuts permanent (they are set to expire in 2010). Obama would allow cuts for income over $250,000 to expire, but would readopt other Bush cuts.
  • Capital Gains: Obama would most likely raise the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 20-25 percent, but also promises to offset any burden that would cause middle/lower income families with tax credits. Obama also notes that most families see capital gains through their 401 (k) plans, which are exempt from capital gain taxes. Despite evidence that when capital gains rates go down, revenue goes up, Obama says he would consider raising it as a matter of fairness. McCain would keep the capital gains at the revenue-making rate of 15 percent.
  • Middle Class: Under Obama, high-income taxpayers would pay more, while everyone else's tax bill would be reduced. Under McCain, high-income taxpayers will see the greatest reduction in taxes.

To find out what the candidates have planned for small businesses, major corporations, Americans set to inherit some money, and why they might write some Americans a check


  • Small Business: McCain says he will make expensing rules more generous for small businesses. Barack Obama would eliminate the capital gains tax for start ups, and invest $250 million per year to increase small businesses in disadvantaged communities.
  • Death Tax and Alternative Minimum Tax: Both would reduce it, but Obama would by a lesser degree.
  • Corporate Taxes: McCain would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent in exchange for a repeal of some corporate loopholes, such as preferential treatment for oil companies. Obama would eliminate special-interest loopholes and deductions.
  • Refundable Tax Credit: McCain proposes cutting a check for $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 for families if they purchase their own health plan. Obama would provide such a credit to low-income families (who may not qualify to pay income taxes), to help pay for child-care.

Overall, under McCain on average an American's tax bill would be cut by $1,200, while under Obama it will be cut by $160. But, Obama would give larger tax cuts to low and moderate-income households and pay some of it by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers. Under McCain high-income taxpayers would benefit the most. And don't forget — the president doesn't actually have any power to tax. The next president will have to get Congress on board if he wants to do anything at all!

Check out these sources if you want to know more about the candidate's positions:

Join The Conversation
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
"mute point" :)
garrick garrick 8 years
Rocking! More Issues Cheat Sheets! Healthcare, Environment, Energy, Iraq, Iran. Also I'm not sure its a given that "lower capital gains leads to higher revenues". Depending on current rates that may or may not be true.
Courtney82 Courtney82 8 years
sorry that was really long. guess that is just the moderate in me!
Courtney82 Courtney82 8 years
maybe because i am not a strict conservative or crazy liberal I look at the plans both rationally. If you really analyze them on a NON BIAS site that you will note that both health care plans have a benefits. Preexisting conditions will not be the same as they are now, so I would say that is a mute point. Your taxable expense will be on top of the HSA plan that will be in effect (which is 100 times better than an FSA since it will last from year to year). Also with a high competition for individuals the rates will not be nearly the same as they are now. I guess because our government changes so much from year to year no matter what "party" people are in or what "change" they are promoting things don't always come out peachy. Our economy sucks right now because not only bush but Clinton for allowing the housing market guidelines to be less strict . So really blame again goes to both parties. I would love to have health care that is available at a reasonable price all the time if I have a job or don't. I don't want to have to rely on the government to have a plan for me that is torn with unfunding in so many areas. On taxes I guess I again cant think with how far in debt our government is in that we are going to be able to have tax cuts. If we want to get out of national debt taxes have to be raises somewhere. NO matter what we will all feel the effects. If your company gets taxed more, you get taxed less, you lose in raises or layoff. I guess I hate the word change because both of the candidates have changed since they have become the front runners in the election. Before Obama was considered a far left candidate and McCain to far in the center to be a Republican. Now both are moving more right (no Obama isnt coming to the the side of republican just not supporting what he use to be considered to liberal for and McCain is moving to the conservative side) I think no matter what just by seeing who have been picked by the candidates for running mates (i think McCain would have picked Lieberman if it wasn't for his party and Obama would have picked Siebelus) they are just trying to win an election not actually fight for what they think is right. All in all it will be a great election because we have two people who can change how people are elected. Door will be opened for all and it will show how American is diverse, is equal. We have more than so many other counties have but dont always act like it.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Ima, I wasn't speaking about the merits of Obama's plan, I was speaking about McCain's plan.
Imabeliever Imabeliever 8 years
That is why Obama also proposes giving additional tax breaks to companies that keep jobs in the US or creates jobs in the US.. and will apply a penalty tax for companies that take jobs away from Americans to other countries. ______________________________________________ Lilkimbo..So, the idea of cutting corporate taxes isn't only about the trickle down effect (which has been proven, whether anyone thinks businesses are benevolent or not), it's also about encouraging companies to keep their operations in the U.S.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Yeah, and unfortunately there would be no pull back in the prices of health care if the government didn't subsidize so much of it.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
I suppose we could eventually find coverage, but it's not going to be a good plan or even a decent plan. Most likely it would be one with at least a $1,000.00 deductible. On our incomes that not feasible. I work in healthcare (in the billing dept) so I know how fast things add up and that $5,000.00 reimbursment is not even going to scratch the surface for most people.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
I'm sorry, but I've called numerous insurance companies to try and get coverage for my MIL to be denied by every single company because she's a diabetic. And my husband who has Lupus has had the same reactions from the companies as well. We are lucky we have it though our jobs otherwise we would be s-o-l. So I'm sorry McCain's reimbursement plan just doesn't work for me. It doesn't seem to take into account people who can't get coverage on their own.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Since government mandates for HMO coverage and subsidization didn't get us into the overinflated mess we're in now, I think the only solution is more government spending and less supply and demand cost control.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
I encourage everyone to read it and read between the lines. It sounds to me like McCain's plan is simply a disaster. Don't trust me or Jilli, check it out for yourselves.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I dunno rac, theres gotta be some info we're missing because I doubt McCain seeks to make healthcare more costly.
Vespa Vespa 8 years
Health insurance really does need a change. To be honest, this is one area where I don't even care what we do as long as we're trying something different. Both candidates have plans that sound like they could work to me.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
What Lilkimbo said. geesh
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
Jilli: I know this is waaaay late in the thread, but that information on McCain's health care plan is terrifying. Thank you for posting that. I think I just switched to Obama again. Jesus. That's like ... a nightmare.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
BMoney, go to, click on issues, and then choose any specific issue. He gives an overview of each issue on the page and goes more into depth if you click on the link at the bottom of the page to the full plan.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Swender, I'm glad you know whether or not I am considering people based on a few comments. And yy, that was an interesting article. I see what you are saying based on the way non-profit hospitals are currently running, but if they were to run the way they are supposed to run, it would be a different story. I am curious to see how this will all change when the stricter standards are implemented in 2009.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
YY, I rely only on what commenters on CS say. I don't need to read articles by your "sources". I also resent the way you keep changing your icon. I find it creepy to have to relate to a doll that stares at me with dead eyes. Mocking me ... judging me ...
Bmoney Bmoney 8 years
Response to Caterpillar's comment below: "Bmoney, there is much more on McCains economic plan than a sound byte. He doesnt think americans are simpletons, and neither does the republican party. and i have seen him say more than 3-5 words, but I like his straight talk better than someone who goes on and on and in the end says nothing." 1. The link provided to McCain's website had a video of soundbytes there was no long document outlining details and actual numbers. I want it in writing with no propaganda please. however does offer details. 2. He must think we are simpletons and maybe we are....because he is using all the Old Bush-Rove-Cheney-Scooter Libby (oops Libby was indicted on FIVE FELONIES AND THEN HAD HIS SENTENCE COMMUTED BY BUSH..WHO IS ENDORSING MCCAIN) smear-fear tactics to win the election. These tactics prey on the lowest common denominator of motivation FEAR and HATE. 4. Where is the old John McCain? I actually used to be a big fan. REALLY! 5. I personnaly feel that the REAL ISSUES that Americans should base their votes on should be discussed in more complicated and nuances terms than the G.O.P. would prefer. I enjoy Obama's answers to questions..
mswender mswender 8 years
It wasn't so judgement but a reaction to a pointed comment even if you think it wasn't. I don't know how open minded you are you just seem to not be considering people without access to the same things you have.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Well, the CEOs are taxed, so that's neither here nor there in this discussion. I never claimed that their CEOs didn't make money. As for the organizations themselves, I will read the article and do a little more research. Thanks for providing the link!
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
im not saying they dont get donations - they have foundations and development directors like any other nonprofit does. what i'm saying is that they are not doing it on their own, without the government. and here's the article that i read in the WSJ (you cant read without a subscription code so here it is from another source) i came across this doing research on the nursing shortage and high paying professions in medicine.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
From my understanding, 'Kimbo is right about the non-profit status. I've worked for one and they got private donations all the time. As for the other personal, who's judging who crap, maybe we can all agree that it gets heated with politics and maybe we should make nice. We're all on the same team and we all want the same thing.
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
they do make money, lilkimbo... and they are not being taxed on it like for profit hospitals. i just read an article about this a few months ago...maybe ill try to find it. some of those hospitals are making billions of dollars and their CEOs make over 1 million a year. i am all for any type of hospital that helps poor people, trust me, but just remember that the reason the nonprofits got off the ground in the first place was because of their tax status.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
And m, you basically admitted what I was saying, that a lot of people aren't careful and don't read the fine print. I wasn't judging these people or calling them idiots; don't project that on me, please.
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