Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump: Tax Plan Comparison

More than 80 million Americans tuned in to watch Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate. That shattered previous ratings record, making the showdown the most-watched debate in American history.

They tackled a variety of issues, ranging from nuclear weapons to community-police relations. One topic that profoundly affects Americans could use more scrutiny: the candidates’ tax plans and how they would affect estate planning. Clinton and Trump’s plans are outlined below:

Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan


Estate Tax

Clinton not only would keep the estate tax, she would strengthen it through a return to the 2009 law. See below:

  • Reduce the applicable exclusion to $3.5 million
  • Increase the rate of taxation from 40% to 45%
  • Reinstate the $1 million lifetime gift exclusion

Income Tax

It has been estimated that the top 1% of taxpayers with incomes greater than $750,000 would face average tax hikes of $78,000 under Clinton’s proposed income tax plan. Conversely, those with earnings below $300,000 would see no tax increase. Clinton’s plan is detailed. Here are some highlights:

  • Allow small businesses to deduct up to $1 million in capital investment
  • Institute the Buffett rule, meaning taxpayers with income above $1 million would pay a minimum 30% effective tax rate
  • Impose a 4% surcharge for taxpayers earning above $5 million
  • Eliminate the “carried interest” loophole
  • Graduated rates for capital gains based on holding period (Holding up to 2 years, ordinary income rates apply; 2-3 years, 36%; 4 years, 32%; 5 years, 28%; 6 years, 24%; 7 or more years, 20%)


Donald Trump’s Tax Plandonald_trump_august_19_2015_cropped

Estate Tax

Trump’s plan would wholly revise the current transfer tax system:

  • Eliminate the estate tax
  • Eliminate the gift tax
  • Eliminate the generation-skipping transfer tax
  • Outlaw a step-up in basis for the assets of decedents with estates over $10 million

Income Tax

Trump’s income tax plans can be nebulous and have changed over the course of the campaign. Nevertheless, analysts believe his plan would reduce taxes across the board, with a larger decrease for the wealthy. Specifically, low income earners would see on average a 1.2% tax deduction and the highest income earners would see a 10.2% tax deduction. Here are highlights of Trump’s proposals:

  • Cap deductions at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for a married couple filing jointly
  • Increase the standard deduction to $15,000 for individuals and $30,000 for married filing jointly
  • Reduce the federal tax brackets from seven to three, with rates of 12%, 25%, and 33% respectively


Repeated polls have shown Clinton and Trump to be the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever. Their tax plans may be partly responsible.

It is no secret that Americans dislike lawyers and worry about the federal debt. Clinton’s tax plans would be a boon for tax attorneys; Trump’s plans would balloon the federal deficit.