President Biden has released his proposed budget for the federal government for the 2024 fiscal year. The budget, which aims to cut the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years, includes numerous provisions that would affect the tax bills of both individuals and businesses. While most of these proposals stand little chance of enactment with a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, they shed light on the Democrats’ priorities as they prepare for the 2024 election season.
Biden Budget Proposal: Individual Tax Provisions
The proposed budget includes tax provisions that would affect taxpayers of various income levels. In particular, it would make the following changes:
Tax rates. The proposal would reinstate the top individual tax rate of 39.6% for single filers earning more than $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples).
Net investment income tax (NIIT). The NIIT on income over $400,000 would include all pass-through business income not otherwise covered by the NIIT or self-employment taxes. The budget also would increase both the additional Medicare tax rate and the NIIT rate by 1.2 percentage points. Thus, the Medicare tax rate would be 5% for earnings above $400,000, and the NIIT rate would be 5% for investment income above $400,000.
Capital gains tax. The highest capital gains rate now is 20% (or 23.8% if the NIIT applies). For individuals with taxable income of more than $1 million, the budget proposes that capital gains be taxed at ordinary rates, with 37% (or 40.8% with the NIIT) generally being the highest rate — or 39.6% (or 43.4% with the NIIT) if the top tax rate is raised.
Child tax credit (CTC). This proposal would expand the CTC and make it fully refundable and payable in advance on a monthly basis. For eligible parents, the credit would increase from $2,000 to $3,000 for children age six and older and $3,600 for children under age six.
The proposal also would establish a “presumptive eligibility” for determining when a taxpayer is eligible to claim a monthly specified child allowance or receive a monthly advance child payment. After a taxpayer establishes presumptive eligibility for a child, that child would be treated as a specified child of the taxpayer for each month during the period of the taxpayer’s presumptive eligibility.
Premium tax credits (PTCs). The American Rescue Plan Act expanded eligibility for healthcare insurance subsidies to taxpayers with household incomes above 400% of the federal poverty line for 2021 and 2022. It also reduced the applicable contribution percentage (the percentage of household income a taxpayer must contribute toward a healthcare insurance premium). The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) extended the expansion through 2025. The proposed budget would make this expansion permanent.
Cryptocurrency taxation. The proposal would amend the “wash-sale” rule to cover digital assets. The rule prohibits the deduction of a loss when the taxpayer acquires “substantially identical” investments within 30 days before or after the sale date.
Minimum wealth tax. The proposal would impose a minimum 25% tax on total income, generally inclusive of unrealized capital gains, for all taxpayers whose assets exceed liabilities by more than $100 million. According to the White House, the tax would apply to only the top 0.01% of taxpayers.
Gift and estate taxes. The proposal would close loopholes related to certain trust arrangements. Specifically, the changes would affect grantor-retained annuity trusts and charitable lead annuity trusts.
Biden Budget Proposal: Business Tax Provisions
The proposed budget’s tax provisions target numerous issues of interest to businesses, including:
Corporate tax rates. The proposal would trim back the large cut made to the corporate tax rate in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). It would hike the tax rate for C corporations from 21% to 28% — still significantly less than the pre-TCJA rate of 35%. In addition, the effective global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) rate would increase to 14%. Overall, with other proposed changes, the effective GILTI rate would rise to 21%.
Global minimum tax. The proposal would repeal Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) liability, replacing it with an “undertaxed profits rule.” In conjunction with the GILTI regime, the rule would ensure that income earned by a multinational company, whether parented in the United States or elsewhere, is subject to a minimum rate of taxation regardless of where the income is earned.
Stock buyback excise tax. The IRA created a 1% excise tax on the fair market value when corporations buy back their stock, with the goal of reducing the difference in the tax treatment of buybacks and dividends. The proposal would quadruple the tax to 4%.
Carried interest loophole. A “carried interest” is a hedge fund manager’s contractual right to a share of a partnership’s profits. Currently, it’s taxable at the capital gains rate if certain conditions are satisfied. The budget proposes to close this loophole.
Like-kind exchanges. Owners of certain appreciated real property can defer the taxable gain on the exchange of the property for real property of a “like-kind.” The proposal would allow the deferral of gain up to an aggregate amount of $500,000 for each taxpayer ($1 million for married couples filing a joint return) each year for like-kind exchanges. Under this proposal, any like-kind gains in excess of $500,000 (or $1 million for married couples) in a year would be recognized in the year the taxpayer transfers the real property.
Low-income housing tax credit. The budget proposes to expand and enhance the largest federal incentive for affordable housing construction and rehabilitation.
The Elephant in the Room
The Biden budget proposal doesn’t address many of the temporary tax provisions of the TCJA that have expired or are set to expire in the next few years. The increased standard deduction, reduced individual tax rates, qualified business income deduction for pass-through businesses, and limit on the state and local tax deduction are among the numerous provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2025 — potentially affecting the tax liability of a wide swath of taxpayers. We’ll keep you informed if there’s significant movement on this front.
Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell (CBM) is a professional services firm delivering tax, accounting and business advisory expertise throughout the Mid-Atlantic region from offices in Bethesda, MD and Washington, DC.