The 10 biggest differences between the Romney and Obama tax plans

President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney have very similar tax plans, Gleckman writes, but there are some key differences.

Michael Reynolds/Pool/AP
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney meet family members after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday. Gleckman offers 10 key differences between the Obama and Romney tax plans.

When it comes to taxes, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are almost perfect mirror images of one another. Here are ten ways their tax plans are different.

  1. Romney’s tax agenda is ambitious and opaque. Obama’s is modest but relatively transparent.
  2. Obama has shown little interest in broad-based tax reform. Romney wants to fundamentally rewrite the revenue code.
  3. Romney wants to cut tax rates across the board. Obama wants to raise rates for high-income households.
  4. Obama wants to hike taxes on the wealthy. Romney does not.
  5. Obama believes that tax increases on high-income households are a key piece of deficit reduction. Romney would not use even a penny of new revenues to help shrink the deficit.
  6. Romney believes that low tax rates will generate enough economic growth to jumpstart the economy. Obama does not.
  7. Obama would preserve tax preferences for green energy. Romney would eliminate them.
  8. Romney wants to cut taxes on investment income. Obama would raise them.
  9. Obama would extend the 2009 expansion of tax credits for low- and moderate-income families.  Romney would let them expire.
  10. Romney would shift the corporate tax to a territorial system in which domestic firms owe no U.S. income tax on their overseas sales but foreign firms pay U.S. tax on money they make here. Obama would continue to impose U.S. tax on foreign earnings of domestic firms, and make it tougher for those companies to avoid tax by keeping their profits overseas.

The two men do have a few things in common. Both want to cut the corporate tax rate, though Romney would cut it more. Romney would permanently extend all of the 2001-2003 tax cuts while Obama would continue nearly all of them. Both men would let the 2010 payroll tax reduction expire as scheduled in January. And both apparently believe that households making up to $200,000 or $250,000 are middle-income.

But those differences are small compared to the candidates’ vastly different visions of what the revenue code should look like.  On taxes, at least, voters have an important choice to make in a couple of weeks.

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