Asked About The Ideal Tax Code, Jake Auchincloss Advocates For Carbon Tax, Higher Death Tax 

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If U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton) could completely rewrite the tax code, what would it look like?

That was a question Auchincloss fielded in a Zoom event put together by the Foxborough Democratic Town Committee on Monday night.

Auchincloss said that it would take at least 24 hours to go through the entire U.S. tax code and point out everything that’s wrong with it. However, he did point out two changes that he’d like to make.

Were they tax cuts for the working class? Nope.

Both of the changes he prioritized making would raise taxes:  implementing a carbon tax and raising the federal inheritance tax. 

A carbon tax is, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation, is a tax “levied on the carbon content of fossil fuels. The term can also refer to taxing other types of greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane. A carbon tax puts a price on those emissions to encourage consumers, businesses, and governments to produce less of them.”

Auchincloss said that he sees a carbon tax as essential to fighting climate change.

“It is absolutely empirically evident that to act with expedition and also to put the market to its best use when it comes to fighting climate change, we need to put a price on carbon,” Auchincloss said during the online event Monday, July 12. “Fifteen, twenty, fifty, a hundred dollars per metric ton. Smart people can disagree about what the right starting price is, but we need to put a price on carbon and create the right incentives in the marketplace for companies to move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. It will allow for the best of R&D also with the best form of government regulation to get us where we need to be.”

A carbon tax would raise the price of gasoline, as the left-leaning Tax Policy Center points out. The organization estimates that a $40 per ton carbon tax would increase the price of gasoline by about 36 cents per gallon.

While a carbon tax would affect many Americans regardless of their income levels, the inheritance tax would primarily affect the wealthy. As of 2021, the federal inheritance tax typically applies to assets over $11.7 million. It starts at 18 percent for assets worth $1 to $10,000 over the minimum threshold and rises to 40 percent on assets exceeding $1 million of that threshold.

Although he didn’t provide a preferred rate, Auchincloss said that raising the tax could help more people, including those who don’t come from means.

“To me, a higher inheritance tax is core to the American principle that the circumstances of your birth do not determine the condition of your life,” Auchincloss said. “If you have tremendous success in your life. If you make a lot of money and start a good business, good on you. But you can’t pass all that money on just to your kids.”

“We in this country pay it forward so that everyone’s kids have a good chance to succeed regardless of how they were born — and an inheritance tax manifests that into the tax code,” he added. “It says:  at the time that you die when you transfer your wealth to your children, a big chunk of that is taxed by the federal government. And it has the benefit of being very efficient and very equitable.”


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