Mar 31, 2021 - Economy & Business

Changes to capital gains taxes omitted from Biden's infrastructure plan

Illustration of a stack of fifty dollar bills cut into the shape of a U.S. map
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The carried interest loophole is beginning to look immortal.

Driving the news: President Biden today will unveil a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that the White House hopes to pay for via changes to the corporate tax code. But it will not include any changes to individual income taxes, including on capital gains.

Why it matters: Presidents don't normally get two swings at major tax reform, which is why Trump and Congressional Republicans did both corporate and individual taxes in the same 2017 bill.

  • Biden may prove the exception by addressing income taxes in a subsequent "social infrastructure" plan but, for now, it looks like his focus is on raising the corporate rate from 21% to 28%.
  • Plus implementing a global minimum tax of around 21% (calculated on a country-by-country basis), cutting a tax exemption on the first 10% of overseas profits and ending tax subsidies for fossil fuel producers.

Biden pledged during the campaign to change capital gains taxation, and reports last week were that he would propose that individuals pay ordinary rates on all annual investment income of over $1 million.

  • This would have been a backdoor way to increase taxes on carried interest, at least for many VC, private equity and hedge fund managers.
  • Presidents Obama and Trump had pledged to directly change the tax treatment of carried interest, but neither succeeded.

When asked about the capital gains omission last night during a press backgrounder, a senior administration official said: "Capital gains is not addressed here. The reason for that is that the focus of this plan is on corporate tax reform and reforming the corporate tax system. And we think that that is important as a matter of fairness and also important as a matter of encouraging domestic investment."

Caveat: The White House still seems to be working through its legislative strategy on all this. If taxes and infrastructure spending get separated, then Biden's tax proposal could change.

The bottom line: Private fund managers are unlikely to cheer any proposal that includes a major corporate tax rate increase. But they're certainly breathing some sighs of relief.

🎧 Listen up: White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein joins me on Axios Re:Cap after Biden's speech (we'll publish a bit later than usual). Subscribe here.

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