Obama's budget plan hammers investors

The president's plan to raise tax revenue could mean disaster for the equity markets.

By , Guest blogger

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    President Barack Obama speaks about the "Community College to Career Fund" and his 2013 budget, Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va. Brown argues that the budget hits hard on investment portfolios
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Regular readers know I'm post-political, I find both parties to be equally useless and distasteful and Obama in particular to be well-meaning but misguided.

So don't take this as a partisan shot, just take it as frustration with something that I think could be a mess for the equity markets.

The President released his fiscal year 2013 budget this morning, he's looking to raise tax revenue as a percentage of GDP to 20.1%.  And among the various ways he seeks to do that, a serious hammering of the investor class is on the menu...

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From Americans for Tax Reform:

  • The capital gains rate will rise from 15% today to 23.8% next year.  That's because the Obama budget assumes the pre-2001 capital gains rate of 20% for investors earning more than $250,000 per year.  On top of this, the Obamcare surtax on investment will raise this rate to 23.8%.  Separately, capital gains earned as "carried interest" will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates.
  • The dividends rate will raise from 15% today to 43.4% next year.  The Obama budget proposes taxing dividends for investors making more than $250,000 per year at ordinary income tax rates, which will rise to a top rate of 39.6% under the budget.  In addition, the Obamacare surtax on investors will combine to nearly triple the tax rate on dividends in just one year.
  • The real tax rate on capital gains and dividends is actually even higher than this.  Since taxes on dividends and capital gains are a cascaded double taxation on savings, the rate is actually far higher than this.  Before being taxed to investors as capital gains and dividends, the money first faced taxation as corporate profits.  The U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world at 35%.  When factoring this in, the Obama budget is actually proposing a capital gains tax rate of 50.5% and a dividends rate of 63.2%.  That would leave U.S. employers and savers at a severe competitive disadvantage.

What impact would this have on the stock market - especially in light of the fact that cash-rich corporations are finally paying out dividends and people are in need of that equity income more than ever?

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