What would Green tax reform look like?
The national platform on fair taxation
Federal and state taxes must be strongly progressive.
Our current tax system is outrageously unjust. It is riddled with loopholes, subsidies and dodges for corporations and the super-rich. Most working people pay too much in taxes compared to corporations, multi-millionaires and billionaires. Many of our biggest and most profitable corporations pay little or no tax. Much investment income is taxed at less than the rate workers pay.
We can afford to cut taxes for most people if we make corporations and the super-rich pay their fair share. Then we can cut them even more when we halt our nation’s wasteful spending on wars, weaponry and militarism.
We call for progressive taxation, shifting tax from individuals to corporations, taxing “bads” not “goods,” taxing unearned income at the same rate as earned income, taxing speculation on Wall Street, and cutting corporate tax giveaways.
We will institute comprehensive tax reform to simplify the tax system. We will eliminate loopholes and other exemptions that favor corporate and wealthy interests over tax justice.
Small business, in particular, should not be penalized by a tax system which benefits those who can “work” the legislative tax committees for breaks and subsidies. We support substantive and wide-ranging re-form of the tax system that helps create jobs, economic efficiencies and innovation within the small business community. We will end “corporate welfare.” Smaller businesses are the USA’s great strength. Greens believe government should have a tax policy which encourages small and socially responsible business.
Political democracy remains a distant promise without economic democracy. A principal instrument for achieving economic democracy is our tax system. Taxes are the means whereby we fund our public services. They can also help create equity, justice, health and sustainability.
Cut taxes for wage workers
Exempt people earning less than $25,000 per year and families earning less than $50,000 per year (adjusted for inflation) from the federal and state income taxes.
Exempt food, clothing, prescription medications, other necessities and second-hand goods from sales taxes.
Fair taxes for corporations and the wealthy
End corporate welfare, such as the bailouts for Wall Street, the big banks and the automobile industry; subsidies for agribusiness, Export-Import Bank loan guarantees; tax abatements for big box stores; the tax loophole for “carried interest” from private equity and hedge fund managers; tax deductibility for advertising and business entertainment; offshore tax avoidance schemes; giveaways for new sports stadiums and casinos.
Impose a financial transaction tax on trades of stocks, bonds, currency, derivatives, and other financial instruments.
Block financial transactions with tax havens, to stop tax evasion.
Decrease the $1 million home value cap on the mortgage interest tax deduction for federal income taxes, to reduce the tax subsidy provided to those living in the most expensive homes.
Restore the estate tax.
Apply the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (Social Security and Medicare) taxes to investment income and to all levels of income, not merely the first $106,800 earned.
Oppose the privatization of Social Security.
Enact a wealth tax of 0.5% per year on an individual’s assets over $5 million.
Eco-taxes to help save the planet
Establish a system of carbon taxes on all fossil fuels, to begin to reflect the real environmental cost of their extraction and use. Carbon taxes should be applied as far upstream as possible, preferably when possession of the carbon-bearing fuel passes from extraction (for ex- ample, coal mine; oil wellhead or tanker; gas wellhead) to the next entity in the supply chain (for example, coal shipper or utility; oil refiner or importer; natural gas pipeline). Offset potential regressivity for lower income individuals via the Green Tax shift that lowers income taxes and/or other approaches.
Eliminate tax subsidies for the oil, gas, coal, nuclear and timber and mining industries.
Enact a Green Tax Shift that shifts from taxing people and work (via income and payroll taxes) to taxing natural resource extraction, use, waste and pollution.
Enact a system of Community Ground Rent/Land Value Taxation that distinguishes between the socially and privately created wealth of land, by increasing the taxes on the former to retain for society the value that it collectively creates and lowers them on the latter to reward individuals for their initiative and work.
To ensure that prices reflect their true environmental cost, enact a system of True Cost Pricing (TCP) for goods and services. TCP is an accounting and pricing system that includes all costs in the price of a product. TCP charges extractive and productive industries for the immediate or prolonged damage (pollution of air and water) and diminishment of natural resources caused by their acts.
Impose a carbon fee on goods imported from nations with lower carbon taxes than in the U.S., based upon the carbon spent in manufacturing and transporting them to the U.S.
Other tax reforms
Simplify the tax code. Make it transparent, understand- able and resistant to the machinations of powerful corporate and wealthy interests.
Eliminate tax incentives to send jobs overseas.
Raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soda pop and other junk food.
Sales taxes are regressive. Raising taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soda and junk food is particularly regressive as it impacts low income people the most. Raising taxes on these things will not make people consume them less. We need real health care programs (not just sick care) that will help people make healthy choices. We should be making healthy alternatives convenient and available. We need to challenge the neo-liberal mentality that market forces can solve everything.
Furthermore, when the state collects taxes on these things, it creates a financial dependency and therefore a dis-incentive for government to find real solutions.