Oct 27, 2020 - Economy

What each presidential candidate means for venture capital

Illustration of a ballot in a wallet full of money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden appears to align with more venture capital and startup industry priorities than does Donald Trump, despite the latter's dedication to cutting personal and business taxes.

Why it matters: Trump’s hostility to immigration and bans on Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat are especially challenging for the industry, according to its top lobbying group, the National Venture Capital Association.

The NVCA does not endorse presidential candidates, nor does its political action committee (VenturePAC) donate to presidential candidates.

  • VenturePAC has given more to Republican congressional candidates in the 2020 cycle than to Democratic congressional candidates.
  • Venture capitalists themselves tend to lean Democratic, although there are plenty of notable exceptions.

If Trump wins: His second term will likely be more of the same.

  • Continued and potentially increased restrictions on immigration, including for would-be entrepreneurs and startup employees.
  • Increased scrutiny of foreign investments into American companies.
  • Unpredictability.
  • Yes, but: There's also optimism for more friendly moves like the recent changes to the Volcker Rule, which could increase fund flows. Plus, of course, lower business and personal tax rates.

If Biden wins: His administration is expected to be much more welcoming of immigrants, and his climate change efforts could include favorable policies for tech R&D and startup investments.

  • His biggest challenge to VCs would be increases on long-term capital gains taxes to 39.6% for those with incomes over $1 million.
  • If successful on capital gains, it would be a backdoor change to the tax treatment of carried interest. Trump has also signaled his opposition to current carried interest policy, but didn't address it in the 2017 tax bill.

Either way: Drug pricing and China tensions will continue to be contentious issues no matter who wins, but tactics would be different under Biden or Trump.

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