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Gotta pass out special privileges. With complexity comes opportunity.



One of the most complexity inducing areas of the tax code, The Alternative Minimum Tax, has a lot more to do with taxing certain people extra than handing out any special privileges.

That and form 8960 (Net Investment Income Tax Individuals, Estates, and Trusts) are both direct contradictions to you assertion.


The fact that we still tax capital gains way lower than personal income should already tell you volumes about who has special privileges in the tax code.


There are a lot of very good reasons to tax capital gains at lower rates than ordinary income. Among them:

  - The problem of notational vs real gains
  - The fact that capital gains are already taxed once at the corporate level
  - The fact that taxing capital gains is a tax on savings and we want to encourage savings and investment
  - All of the theory on how differentiated taxes on present vs future consumption is a flawed idea
    (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimal_capital_income_taxation)
Note that it's not just in the US that capital gains are taxed at a lower rate but in virtually all other modern economies. It's not just some trick.


These are all very good reasons, but in practice it mainly means that the richer you are, the less you pay in taxes as proportion of your overall income, and there's a point past which taxation is essentially regressive as a result. So any such argument has to demonstrate that the obvious disparity that already exists in that arrangement is less of a problem than any of the hypothetical problems from taxing capital gains more.

Especially since there are countries that do tax at least some capital gains at the same rate, and they don't seem to be doing appreciably worse than other countries in a similar economic bucket that do not. Indeed, it seems to be more popular among economically liberal countries with flat income taxes.


there's a point past which taxation is essentially regressive as a result

Perhaps, but the US is not past that point. Every level of income pays a higher rate of taxes than the level below it according to IRS reports.

Separately, none of the issues I listed are hypothetical.


> Every level of income pays a higher rate of taxes than the level below it according to IRS reports

Does their definition of "income" include capital gains for the purpose of those reports? I don't see how this could possibly be true if it does, given that capital gains constitute the largest part of overall income past a certain point on the scale.


Does their definition of "income" include capital gains for the purpose of those reports?

Yes

https://taxfoundation.org/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-...


It doesn't show up in their data, because they cut off at 0.1% - the hump is slightly higher than that. This shows where it was as of 2014.

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/how-capital-gains-aff...

I'm not sure where it is today, exactly. But it's easy to see that it's always going to be there, simply by virtue of increasing proportion of capital gains at higher income levels.




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