The Supreme Court is turning up the heat on President Joe Biden’s administration, deciding that his $430 billion transfer of student debt was illegal. This decision could possibly result in a reversal of the government’s proposals to tax the wealthy.
This fall, the court will hear cases involving Second Amendment rights, federal agencies’ authority, and whether or not one can trademark the phrase “Trump too small”. However, it is believed that Moore v. United States will have a large impact on Biden as it deals with the legality of his proposed wealth tax which he has frequently advocated for during his State of Union address earlier this year.
Biden stated during his speech that there should be no billionaire who pays a lower tax rate than school teachers and firefighters – yet Republicans are now questioning if this is even constitutional. If Biden does not act carefully in regards to passing such legislation, he may face further pushback from members of Congress and other organizations alike.
“Biden later proposed a 25% annual tax on all gains to wealth in excess of $100 million in a given year, including unrealized capital gains which aren’t currently taxable. The White House says that the tax would only apply to the top 0.01% of the highest earners. While the proposal faces long odds with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it could be nixed permanently if the high court rules such a tax is unconstitutional,” The Washington Examiner reported.
“The specifics of the Moore case don’t involve huge amounts of money, but center around the same issues of taxation and the definition of the word ‘income,’” the outlet added. “Charles and Kathleen Moore, a Washington state-based couple, made a nearly $40,000 investment into an Indian company in 2005 and never received any money or other payments from the company even though it made a profit every year.”
The outlet added:
Under the 2017 tax reform law, they learned they were subjected to a mandatory repatriation tax of $14,729. They paid that amount and then filed suit seeing a refund and claiming that the tax violates the constitution’s apportionment clause. The Sixteenth Amendment authorizes Congress to “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states.” That means that the federal government cannot tax stock gains, which are the source of wealth for many billionaires unless those stocks are sold.
Progressive leaders have for years railed against this state of affairs, with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) supporting a tax on wealth itself rather than direct income. An appeals court ruled that the Moores could be taxed this way, saying “there is no constitutional prohibition against Congress attributing a corporation’s income pro-rata to its shareholder.” But the Supreme Court could reverse that ruling, rendering the repatriation tax and future wealth-based taxes off-limits at the federal level.
“The Sixteenth Amendment allows the federal government to impose income taxes without apportioning them among the states,” said Cato Institute research fellow Thomas Berry. “But courts have always limited those taxes to that word, ‘income,’ and said that word is meaningful. It doesn’t just mean whatever the government wants it to mean.”
The Cato Institute, along with the Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform, have submitted amicus briefs in support of the Moores as hearings are set to begin in October. This is part of a long-standing disagreement on whether unrealized capital gains should be regarded as income.
President Biden has proposed increasing conventional taxes and implementing tariffs on imports to increase revenue from the super-rich; however, political analysts believe this may open the door to unanticipated taxes at the federal level.
This fall, the Supreme Court will hear several cases that challenge the constitutionality of agency funding exempt from congressional appropriations and oversight, as well as judicial deference to agency interpretations of laws they enforce.
This term’s most important case could possibly be SEC v. Jarkesy which seeks to reinstate jury trials in administrative civil cases–a right currently handled solely by judges who work for agencies. Republicans hope this ruling will give citizens greater protection against government overreach and abuse by restoring their right to a fair trial before a jury of their peers.