There are enormous differences in how the leading presidential candidates want to tax America's superrich.
In March, the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, published an analysis detailing how the presidential candidates' tax plans would affect the top 0.1 percent of income earners, or those making at least $3.7 million annually.
Here's a chart put together by Vox's Javier Zarracina based on TPC's findings:
There are huge differences between Democrats and Republicans, and among Democrats
It's worth highlighting just how big the divides are between the Democrats and the Republicans, as well as between the two Democratic candidates.
Sanders's plan is, unsurprisingly, the most aggressive toward the superrich.
If his plan were approved, President Sanders would raise taxes for each household in the top 0.1 percent by an average of $3 million per household, according to the TPC.
By contrast, President Ted Cruz would cut taxes on the richest of the rich by an average of $2 million per tax filer. Donald Trump's plan similarly calls for an average tax cut for the superrich by $1.3 million per family.
"These are tectonic shifts in tax policy," TPC's analysis says.
Hillary Clinton's tax plan is the least dramatic of any of the four candidates. (TPC said Republican Gov. John Kasich had not released a detailed plan.)
For the 116,000 households in the top 0.1 percent, for instance, Clinton's plan would have each family pay an average of $500,000 more.
Another way to dramatize the difference: Sanders's tax plan would, on average, raise the federal tax rate for the top 0.1 percent by 29.5 percentage points. Clinton's would raise it by around 5 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Cruz's plan would, on average, cut the tax rate of the top 0.1 percent by 19 percentage points, and Trump's would cut it by 12.5 percentage points, according to TPC.
What impact would the tax policies have on the federal budget?
These different tax plans lead to dramatically different consequences for the federal budget. Below are the estimates provided by Aaron Krupkin, a senior research analyst at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the report, of how much the candidates' proposed tax plans would affect the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent in their first year alone.
- Sanders's tax plan would raise $596 billion from the top 1 percent and $358 billion from the top 0.1 percent.
By comparison, the entire military spending budget in 2015 was $583 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. With that money, you could double federal spending on veterans, education, and transportation and still have $116 billion left over.
- Clinton's plan would raise $89 billion from the top 1 percent and $60 billion from the top 0.1 percent.
Obviously that's much smaller, but still nothing to sniff at. The entire federal food stamp program costs about $78 billion.
- Trump's plan would decrease federal revenue coming from the top 1 percent by $312 billion, and by $151 billion for the top 0.1 percent.
Trump's plan is not as generous to the superrich as Cruz's, but overall it calls for the most massive tax cuts — with no offsetting spending reductions — of any of the Republican candidates.
- Cruz's plan would decrease federal revenue coming from the top 1 percent by $463 billion, and by $231 billion for the top 0.1 percent. That's part of a plan that is, in general, much more generous to the wealthy than any of the other candidates' plans, according to Vox's Dylan Matthews.
A more detailed view of tax proposals reveals surprises
These numbers aren't put out by the campaigns themselves. Instead, the TPC had to calculate them primarily by adding up the cumulative impact of the candidates' policies on four major kinds of federal taxes — income taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and estate and gift taxes.
TPC had already crunched the numbers on the candidates' tax plans overall but only recently decided to go back and look at their specific impacts on the superrich, according to William Gale, co-director of TPC and co-author of the report.
"One of the things I think is surprising is how big the Sanders increases are at the very top," Gale said. "We kind of knew that Sanders is very explicitly trying to raise burdens on the highest-income households. … Hillary Clinton is less volcanic about it, but her plans are in the direction of raising taxes as well."
Gale added that TPC's analysis also factored in the candidates' other tax proposals, like Sanders's proposed "financial transactions" tax on Wall Street and his proposed carbon tax for polluters.
Gale also acknowledged that the TPC's estimates were static — meaning that they assume no change in economic behavior even under Sanders's proposal to significantly jack up rates.
"We all knew [Sanders] was looking for ways to increase their burden, but the increase is enormous when you look at the total numbers," he said.