Van Hollen proposes raising estate tax to boost Social Security

Van Hollen proposes raising estate tax to boost Social Security
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. (D-Md.) on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would boost the estate tax to raise funds to shore up Social Security.

Van Hollen’s “Strengthen Social Security by Taxing Dynastic Wealth Act” would undo ‘s tax law’s treatment of estate taxes, restoring the estate and gift tax to their 2009 levels.

“In 2017, Republicans in Congress secured their latest massive giveaway on the estate tax – delivering a $4.4 million tax cut per couple to just 1,900 estates in the entire country at the same time they refused to support vital national priorities. That was unconscionable, and we must return the estate tax to a more reasonable level,” said Van Hollen in a statement on the bill.


“I can think of no better way to use … that revenue than to strengthen Social Security,” he added.

The bill would raise the top estate and gift tax rates from 40 percent to 45 percent. The first $3.5 million of an individual’s estate would be exempt from estate taxes, with the threshold set at $7 million for married couples.

Van Hollen touted the bill earlier Tuesday, when he spoke at the “Taxing the (Very) Rich” conference, hosted by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

“This one measure will close the 21 percent shortfall,” he said about boosting Social Security.

The Maryland senator is only the latest Democratic lawmaker to propose higher taxes on the wealthy or corporations to pay for social programs.

Sen. (D-Mass.), a 2020 contender, has called for an annual special tax on those with a net worth surpassing $50 million. Earlier this week, Sen. (I-Vt.), also running for the Democratic nomination, proposed erasing $1.6 trillion in U.S. student debt with a tax on Wall Street that would raise $2 trillion over 10 years.

At Tuesday’s event, Van Hollen also floated a 10 percent surtax on incomes above $2 million to raise funds to shore up K-12 education.

“Our funding system is based off of inequality,” Van Hollen said at the conference. “The federal government is falling hugely short in supporting K-12. We must deal with this fundamental inequity.”

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